Shark attacks man in Pacific Grove, police close beaches
PACIFIC GROVE — Pacific Grove police closed beaches Wednesday after a man was attacked and seriously injured by a shark off a popular beach in Monterey Bay, then pulled ashore by beachgoers.
The attack, which experts said was a rare occurrence, happened near Lovers Point – a popular beach destination in Monterey County – at 10:35 a.m.
Fernando Beltran, a Salinas resident, told the Monterey Herald he was taking a break from biking at Lovers Point Park when he saw a “fight” in the water.
“I realized (it was a shark) when I saw the dorsal fin,” Beltran said. “I was in shock for a minute, thinking, ‘Oh that can’t be a shark.’ I thought it was two guys wrestling.
Beltran said he saw the swimmer dive underwater for about 10 to 15 seconds. When the swimmer resurfaced, he began calling for help. Beltran said he called 911, and a group of four or five paddleboarders rushed to get the swimmer onto a board and out of the water.
Beltran said the victim was conscious and bleeding from her left leg when he last saw her being taken to hospital by emergency responders.
Two Salinas television stations, KSBW and KION, reported late Wednesday that friends of the swimmer had identified him as Steve Bruemmer. A former computer scientist and computer science professor at Monterey Peninsula College, Bruemmer, 62, a Monterey resident, retired last year. He is a member of a swim club who regularly swims in the ocean near Lovers Point, although he was swimming alone on Wednesday at the time of the attack, friends said.
Aimee Johns, a nurse from Folsom, and her husband Paul Bandy, an off-duty Sacramento police officer, were visiting Pacific Grove for their wedding anniversary and paddleboarding in the area when they heard Bruemmer scream.
They rushed in and helped save him, they told KSBW. Johns said Bruemmer was bitten in the torso and limbs.
“We had to quickly cut his suit off him,” Johns told KSBW, “and cut everything open and try to apply tourniquets to every limb, as well as his abdomen – putting pressure there, because he was bleeding heavily. “
Jill Hannley, a friend of Bruemmer, told KION that he suffered a fractured femur, but no major arteries were severed and he is expected to recover.
“He’s not going to lose any limbs,” Hannley told the station. “He will survive. But it will be a long recovery.
On Wednesday afternoon, Pacific Grove police said the victim suffered “severe injuries” and was taken by ambulance to Natividad Medical Center in Salinas. The Monterey Fire Department and Seaside Fire Department then used a drone to search for the shark, but as of Wednesday afternoon there had been no additional sightings.
“They are actively looking for the shark, but we don’t have any information on its type or size yet,” said Shayla Hoffman, spokeswoman for the Pacific Grove Police Department.
Lovers Point is located one mile west of the Monterey Bay Aquarium.
The beaches at Sea Palm Avenue Turnout in Lovers Point will be closed until Saturday, police said.
BREAKING: All beaches in Pacific Grove will be closed for at least 48 hours following a shark attack at Lovers Point this morning. pic.twitter.com/JcsxVVV3Sp
— Molly Gibbs (@MollyMGibbs) June 22, 2022
Shark attacks are rare off the California coast. However, they occur occasionally.
In May 2020, surfer Ben Kelly, 26, of Santa Cruz, was killed in a shark attack about 100 yards from Manresa State Beach in Aptos. Kelly bled to death after the shark bit him behind his right knee, hitting an artery. An investigation by state wildlife biologists found the shark to be at least 10 feet long.
A study published last year concluded that there is an increase in great white sharks in Monterey Bay.
Juvenile great white sharks – younger animals measuring between 5 and 9 feet long – that traditionally concentrate in the warm waters of northern Mexico and southern California have moved north since 2014 as temperatures from the water warmed up, according to the study.
Young sharks stay close to shore, feeding on squid and other animals. As they grow, they move to deeper, cooler waters.
Where once there were no juvenile white sharks spotted in the ocean between Manresa State Beach in Aptos and New Brighton State Beach in Capitola, there are now dozens every year, according to research by scientists from the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Duke University and the State of California. Long Beach University. Sharks swim there in groups between April and October, sometimes a few feet from shore and other features such as the “Cement Ship”, a ramshackle boat off a pier at Seacliff State Beach.
Sharks have been photographed regularly swimming close to people, who often have no idea the powerful creatures are so close. In most cases, sharks don’t attack people, and when they bite someone, it’s almost never a sustained attack. It’s a one-time bite and then they’re gone, experts say.
“In the majority of these cases, a person is bitten and is able to swim to shore,” said Cal State Long Beach marine biologist Chris Lowe. “If a shark intended to feed, the person would never return to the beach. We assume these are accidents: The shark just made a mistake. They may have mistaken a human for prey or simply felt threatened because the human got too close and didn’t even know the shark was there.
Lowe noted that millions of people visit California beaches each year and attacks are very rare.
The general risk of being injured or killed by a great white shark off the California coast is minimal. A study published by Stanford scientists in 2015 found a 1 in 17 million risk of a surfer being attacked. The risk fell 91% from 1950 to 2013, scientists found, as the number of attacks remained nearly constant, but the human population on the California coast tripled from 7 million in the 1950s to 21 million in 2013.
Lovers Point, located at the end of 17th Street in Pacific Grove, is one of the oldest tourist sites in Monterey Bay. It has been a popular spot for swimming, boating, and picnicking since the 1870s, when the Methodist Episcopal Church established a resort here. The area became known as “Lovers of Jesus Point”, later shortened to “Lovers Point”.
Today, there is a 4-hectare park with a beach, a large lawn, a beach volleyball court, rocky outcrops, a restaurant and a snack bar. The area is a popular site for weddings and is also home to the city’s annual Lantern Festival show and fireworks celebration.
— Scott Budman (@scottbudman) June 22, 2022