SUMMERLAND, Calif. - The Carpinteria-Summerland Fire Protection District reported that a swimmer was bitten by a marine animal Friday afternoon.
Fire personnel responded to the call along with AMR at 2:30 p.m. The victim was a woman in her 50s who was bitten by a suspected shark while swimming in the area of Serena Avenue and Padaro Lane.
The Fire Protection District says that, while it is not confirmed, it is highly suspected the bite was caused by a shark.
Fortunately, fire personnel described her wounds as relatively minor. The woman was transported to Cottage Hospital for treatment. Her wounds are described as two one-inch lacerations on her foot.
The victim said that she had been "lap swimming" outside of Serena about 60 feet from the shore during the time of the bite.
She described the probable shark as five to six feet long with a black dorsal fin that bumped her before quickly swimming away.
According to the Sheriff's dispatch, there were several other sightings of this animal in the area, including by Santa Claus Lane and Carpinteria State Park.
Santa Barbara County Parks posted "Shark Advisory Signs" at Santa Claus Lane and Loon Point in Summerland Saturday morning to warn beachgoers of the potential danger.
There were also signs up at Carpinteria State Beach, and at Carpinteria City Beach they were at some of the entrances where foot traffic came in by closed parking areas.
These signs will stay up until Sunday evening, but may be extended if people continue to report sightings.
SHARK EXPERTS CALLED
The female swimmer released a photo of her wounded foot to several people on Friday. She told rescuers she felt the bite shortly after she began her swim and immediately came to shore. Her name was not officially released but she identified herself to her helpers and said she did not live locally.
It was reviewed by Southern California shark experts, including Ralph Collier, President of the Shark Research Committee. He was sent a copy of Boyd's picture to determine if the wound was caused by a sting ray or a juvenile shark. It was determined to be a young shark about five to six feet long based on the bite marks.
Those sharks have been seen off shore in the same area for at least a week, and in recent years have been populating the waters in late spring and summer.
Dr. Chris Lowe from the Cal State Long Beach Shark Lab described the journey of these sharks in a speech last year at the Santa Barbara Maritime museum.
He said the sharks were drawn to this cove in part because of the water temperature and food source. The Shark Lab team has been tagging the sharks with transmitters to follow their habits as part of an ongoing research project.
Marine videographer and film producer Harry Rabin is in this area often and has been following the shark activity for years. He said with the use of his drone he has been seeing about five sharks recently in the waters where Boyd suffered the bite.
Rabin says they have returned "like clockwork."
HELP ON THE BEACH
Everette Graves was called out by two passersby when they found Boyd and saw her injuries. He ran to get a first aid kit and brought it to them.
Graves said, "the two women on the beach cleaned the wound. We were there observing, she seemed like she knew what she was doing. We gave her the first aid kit and the water and she applied pressure and all that stuff."
His friend Hendy Sanderson said, " I was a little confused. I was surprised there was a shark attack. It is very unlikely. I thought it was a sting ray but there was a lot of blood and it was not a sting ray."
He said he saw sharks last weekend while paddle boarding.
Dylan Vincent was also with his friend helping and came from a nearby deck when a woman was calling to them to make a 911 call and help. He said the first words he heard was, "she's bleeding a lot. We don't know what happened."
Vincent says the swimmer was alone out past the waves when the incident happened.
"Everyone knows Padaro is filled with sharks," he says, during this time of year.
When he goes farther out it is on a paddle board, not as a swimmer. "I've learned how to be careful," he said.
"I don't think it was a big shark." Vincent said, based on the bite.
The three young men all credit the two other women with them for their urgent care at the scene, prior to the arrival of Carpinteria firefighters and an AMR medic crew.
Saturday at mid-morning there were a couple of paddle boarders but no ocean swimmers in the same area as the Friday incident.