Santa Barbara waterfront officials confirmed reports that a great white shark attacked a female sea lion weighing as much as 300 pounds, hitting the sea lion from below and ripping into its stomach. Based on the bite marks, officials estimated the shark could have been eight to nine feet long.
Where the attack took place remains unknown, but the sea lion was found at 9 a.m. Wednesday near Stearns Wharf — in the “Y” of the harbor — close to shore. Although the attack was severe — “It took the animal apart,” said Mick Kronman of the Waterfront Department — the sea lion did not die until after it had been been rescued and placed in a boat.
According to Kronman, the teeth marks around the sea lion’s belly were consistent with a great white. Great white sightings in the area are “pretty rare,” he said.
Kronman said the beaches would not be closed because of the attack, but that his department would be advising any businesses giving aquatics lessons or vending aquatic equipment.