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Shark bites rare but sightings not uncommon along Central Coast

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Posted at 3:54 PM, Dec 24, 2021

Shark bites are rare and very few result in death but on Friday, a man who was boogie boarding in the waters off Morro Bay was killed in a shark attack.

Shark sightings, however, are not as uncommon at Central Coast beaches and in recent years, a few close encounters with sharks have been documented in the Morro Bay area.

In 2019, Cal Poly student Nicholas Wapner was bitten by a shark while surfing at Sandspit Beach in nearby Montaña de Oro.

In 2015, Elinor Dempsey was surfing at Morro Strand State Beach when a shark took a bite out of her board.

And in 2014, Kevin Swanson was surfing near Sandspit when he was bitten by a shark.

All three survived.

The last fatal shark attack in San Luis Obispo County happened at Avila Beach in 2003. Deborah Franzman, 50, was swimming near the pier when she was attacked by a shark and killed.

Back in 1957, a man swimming with friends off the beach in Morro Bay was killed in a reported shark attack. According to online records, Peter Savino's body was never recovered.

According to the International Shark Attack File (ISAF), there were 33 unprovoked shark bites in the United States last year. Three resulted in death.

In most unprovoked bites - 61%, according to the ISAF - the victim was surfing or on some other type of board.