Local surfers react to Santa Cruz ocean ban after shark incident

On Tuesday morning a kayaker was bumped and thrown from his kayak by a great white shark outside the kelp bed near Steamer Lane in Santa Cruz. The shark proceeded to bite the kayak while the kayaker, Steve Lawson, was unharmed and promptly rescued by Harbor Patrol.

This incident, along with other recent sightings and activities along the Santa Cruz coast, prompted the city of Santa Cruz to put a ban on going in the ocean in a 1-mile radius of coastline between the San Lorenzo River mouth and Fair Avenue until July 15.

With a run of south swell this week, it’s leaving the lineup of Steamer Lane quite empty and unridden. Which has caused some local Santa Cruz surfers to voice their opinion about the water activities ban.

Surfing is prohibited WTF? You have a higher chance of being attacked by a tweaker than a shark #uncrowned #banned

A post shared by Ken Collins (@skin_dizzle) on

Santa Cruz pro surfer Ken “Skindog” Collins posted the above thoughts on Instagram while staring at an empty Steamer Lane with a shark sighting sign on land.

And big-wave surfer from Santa Cruz Shawn Dollar told GrindTV, “We’ve been seeing sharks everywhere. I think it’s a bit overboard. If the waves are good I’ll consider surfing.”

World-class surf photographer Dave “Nelly” Nelson (who is also from Santa Cruz) gave GrindTV some of the best insight to the local surfer mindset right now:

“No, I’d never let someone tell me whether we can surf or not. I think there are sharks all over the place right now for some weird reason, but to regulate a small area like that is crazy. I doubt if anyone is gonna adhere to it. We have been seeing ’em around for months and my daughter even got chased out of the water last month.”

Kelly Slater even chimed in with a comment on the below repost by Powerline Productions, asking “What if you paddle out ten minutes before signs come down? Still $500 or you get a break?”

Reposted pic from @small_wave The Lane is closed for a few days. $500 ticket and/or possibly get attacked by Shark if you surf it. #choiceisyours

A post shared by Powerlines Productions (@powerlinesproductions) on

A brief look today at the Steamer Lane camera on Surfline showed a few surfers taking the risk to be in the fairly empty lineup. No word if they will be given a citation or not, but it’s clear that some surfers don’t see this as a risk that wasn’t present before Tuesday’s attack on the kayak.

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