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Santa Cruz ocean waters closed after shark attacks kayaker off Steamer Lane

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SANTA CRUZ — A large shark bit a Kevlar kayak 11 a.m. Tuesday about a quarter mile from Steamer Lane and the experienced boater, who had his own VHF radio, called for help and was not hurt, according to the Santa Cruz Fire Department.

All water activities, including surfing, kayaking and swimming, are prohibited from the San Lorenzo rivermouth to Fair Avenue in the Westside until sunrise Saturday, according to Fire Chief Jim Frawley.

“Attacks like these are extremely rare in Santa Cruz County and we are so thankful that the kayaker wasn’t injured,” Frawley said. “This is a reminder that swimming in the ocean does carry some risk and we encourage all swimmers, surfers and kayakers to be mindful of their surroundings and follow directions of lifeguards and marine safety staff.”

Santa Cruz Harbor Patrol officers responded within 90 seconds to distress call, Frawley said.

“They got out there and pulled him to safety,” Frawley said. “This was someone who knows what he’s doing. He’s very well versed.”

There were witnesses on some nearby fishing boats and the seas were calm under the sunny sky.

In accordance with the Santa Cruz County Shark Incident Action Plan, Main Beach, Cowell Beach — and other waters a mile from the attack — are closed until Saturday morning.

“We’re not closing the beach. We are closing water activity,” Frawley said. “We’re just going to appeal to them. ‘Help us out here. There’s plenty of other places people go paddle and kayak.'”

Those who violate the order could face citations, he said.

“We don’t want to do that,” Frawley said. “Marine safety staff and lifeguards will monitor the area in the meantime.”

He also said Santa Cruz firefighters are trained to respond to major traumas that may arise in a shark attack.

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