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California Shark Sightings 2012: Great Whites Spotted in Santa Barbara Waters

Travelers Today       By    Katie McFadden

Updated: Aug 17, 2012 09:18 PM EDT

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While Shark Week continues on Discovery Channel, California is having a real life shark week as great white sightings have been reported in Santa Barbara.

On Wednesday, a man who was diving for urchins spotted an estimated six-foot-long great white in 20-feet deep water off the shore near the Mesa lighthouse, according to the Santa Barbara Independent. This was the third great white sighting in Santa Barbara within a week.

On Tuesday evening, a surfer spotted a shark just five feet away from him in the waters off Leadbetter Point. The man estimated that the length between the shark's dorsal fin and tail fin alone was about six to seven feet, meaning the entire great white was even bigger than that.

The surfer was able to swim away without being harmed. He reported the sighting to the city's Harbor Operations department.

After this sighting, Harbor Operations Manager Mick Kronman posted signs between Leadbetter Point and East Beach to give beachgoers and surfers a 72-hour warning until Friday. The signs were placed at 14 locations.

After Wednesday's sighting, officials decided the signs would stay up until Saturday.

Earlier on Tuesday, a stand-up paddle boarder also claimed to have seen an eight-foot great white off Carpinteria City Beach.

A harbor seal was also rescued near Carpinteria after it received wounds from a shark attack.

"The animal struggled to get away and it scraped him," said Peter Howorth of the Santa Barbara Marine Mammal Center, as quoted by the Los Angeles Times.

The Marine Center reports that there have been six shark sightings around Santa Barbara this summer.

Also, at least three seals were found that were shark attack victims.

Warning signs were last put up on July 24 after a sea lion washed up on East Beach with a large bite taken out of it. Experts believe it was attacked by a great white. On July 8, an estimated 15-to-17 foot shark was spotted swimming three miles north of Santa Cruz Island in the waters of the Santa Barbara Channel.

Santa Barbara didn't need to post any shark warning signs last summer. There seems to be more sharks this summer due to an increase in the sea lion population.

Adult great whites can reach up to 20 feet long and weigh up to 5,000 pounds. They can live for about 30 years.

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