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Great White Shark Spotted Near Gaviota

Three fishermen spotted a great white shark just feet from their boat in Gaviota this weekend.

Sightings are becoming more common off the coast of Santa Barbara County and it may have to do with the government’s protection of the predators.

“Oh, I am getting this. This is great!” said Bill Kozma, as he recorded the shark eating.

The three fishermen were looking for rockfish, but spotted something much bigger in the water.

“That’s a big shark! Oh baby!” exclaims a voice on the video.

Bill Kozma was with his friend Robert Ruth and his 14-year-old son, Ken, when they saw the shark.

“It came very close to the boat. We could have reached out and touched it with a fishing pole, we were that close,” said Robert Ruth.

Peter Howorth with the Marine Mammal Center watched the video and determined it was a 13-foot-long juvenile shark and it could get bigger.

“So, see the pointed snout, gray on top, while along the side, broad keel? A classic great white shark,” said Howorth.

In 2012, 27 shark incidents were recorded in Santa Barbara County. Nearly all of them were great whites.

So far this year, 30 sharks have been spotted, encountered or a wounded animal has been found, indicating sharks in the area.

“There’s a lot going on out there. It’s not what it used to be out there,” said Howorth.

The Marine Mammal Center started in 1976 and it would see maybe one shark attack on a seal or sea lion every few years. But now, the number of sharks in the county has increased exponentially.

White sharks were protected by law in the early 1990s to help recover their numbers.

“About the time we would expect a recovery if it were going to happen, would have been just a few years ago would have been the first signs. That’s exactly when the recovery started,” said Howorth.

That means more sharks are in the water, like the one the fishermen encountered.

“I definitely told (my son) not to fall in,” said Ruth.

The Marine Mammal Center tracks all credible shark incidents in Santa Barbara County. If you spot one, you’re asked to call and report it by calling 805-687-3255.

Slideshow: Fishermen Have Close Encounter with Great White

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