SANTA BARBARA — Two local fishermen spotted two Great White Sharks near Santa Cruz Island and recorded them feeding on a seal this weekend.Skipper Ray Kennedy and his Deckhand Andy Perry were near Forney Cove on Sunday around noon when they saw a 12-foot-long shark that wounded a seal. “Oh there’s a fin!,” said Perry on the iPhone recording. The two men snapped pictures that helped identify the predator. “You could see the triangular flaps of skin that match the Great White. No other shark is going to make quite that same mark,” said Peter Howorth, director of the Santa Barbara Marine Mammal Center. Howorth said the animal was a young elephant seal, around a year old.For 20 minutes the shark was out of the fishermen’s sight, then returned but it wasn’t alone. “Just as we thought something was about to occur, a larger shark came up and attacked the seal, started to eat the seal,” said Kennedy.”Oh my God! Are you seeing this (expletive)!” said the voice on the recording.The second shark, around 16 feet long, got as close as 10 feet to the two men on board the boat. “Definitely an up-close and personal experience for me,” said Kennedy as he looked through photos on his cell phone.In just a matter of minutes, the 200 lbs. seal was gone.Sharks feeding on the mammals is a part of the ecosystem, said Howorth. “What’s a little unusual is the number of attacks we’ve been having lately. All the suggestions are that the white shark population has been increasing substantially over the last few years,” he explained.For the past eight months, there have been 32 shark sightings and animal attacks across the Central Coast. A surfer, Francisco Solorio Jr. was fatally wounded in October at Surf Beach. Kennedy said it was a little scary seeing the large sharks feed as he watched from his 35-foot-long boat.”The one thing that really struck me was not just the length of the animals, of the sharks that were swimming by, but the girth. The girth was enormous,” he said. If you see a shark, please contact the Marine Mammal Center at (805) 687-3255.
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