Shark attacks man off Peninsula coast

When Dan Prather’s fishing buddies heard him call for help on his handheld radio during a weekend trip to the San Mateo County coast, they figured he needed someone to lend a hand with a big catch.

Indeed, it was a whopper of a fish — a great white shark that attacked Prather’s kayak, throwing him into the sea and sinking its teeth into the nose of the small boat.

Prather, who had been adjusting his lure before the 10:15 a.m. attack, thought he had been struck by another boat, said John Dale of Foster City, who was part of the group of kayak anglers who accompanied Prather to Bean Hollow State Beach near Pescadero.

“He didn’t think it was a shark until he saw it attached to the front of his boat, gnawing on it,” Dale said.

Prather scrambled back into his kayak, but the force of the attack had knocked his seat loose and he fell out two more times. The shark swam away, leaving Prather’s kayak with multiple scratches and punctures in its bottom.

While Prather’s friends said he’s not ready to talk publicly about the attack, they said the San Leandro resident never lost his cool — or his sense of humor — during the ordeal.

“He told me, ‘I caught a couple fish … and a shark,’” Dale recalled.

Angler Joel Lotilla of Millbrae said Prather was a study in restraint when he reached the shore, calmly opening a beer and lamenting that he wouldn’t be able to use his kayak the following weekend.

Carrie Wilson, a marine biologist for the state Department of Fish and Game, said the area is partof the Red Triangle, named for its dense population of sharks. The region extends roughly from Bodega Bay to beyond the Farallon Islands and south to Big Sur.

There are more sharks in the area because of the many seals, sea lions and elephant seals.

According to statistics from the Department of Fish and Game, only 10 people have died in great white shark attacks in California since the 1920s.

Karl Tallman, public safety superintendent for state parks in the area, said officials don’t plan to close the beach because the attack happened a mile off shore.

tbarak@examiner.com


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