Eerily empty surf breaks were standard order last weekend along the coast of Carpinteria after two mama seals were attacked and killed by a great white shark Thursday afternoon. The attacks – which were observed and photographed by visitors to the bluff-top Seal Watch area above the Harbor Seal Sanctuary – prompted city officials to immediately close the beaches adjacent to the oil and gas plant pier and extend an official word of caution to beachgoers. The great white shark has been a long-rumored – though rarely confirmed – visitor to typically tranquil channel waters, but last week’s sighting is not entirely unexpected given the current seal breeding season and unusually cold water temperatures, according to experts at the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History.

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