Shark sightings won't keep swimmers ashore as long



On Nov. 27, the Port San Luis Harbor District Board of Commissioners approved a revision of their shark policy. Now, after a credible shark sighting within a mile of the harbor, the policy will close the waters of Port San Luis and Avila Beach to swimmers for three days, down from five in the previous ordinance.

Casey Nielsen, the district's operations manager, said the change came after discussions with other agencies and shark experts.

"Sharks live in the water," he said. "That doesn't mean the water is more or less safe. This is just an opportunity to alert and educate the public."

The commission adopted its five-day policy in August of 2003 after a woman was killed by a shark while swimming near the Avila Beach pier.

Nielsen added that the latest change came, in part, because of complaints from Avila Beach business owners who criticized the closures as harmful to their businesses.

At least one local retailer disagrees.

"From past experience, when there is a shark sighting, it typically draws more people out here," said Joseph Morales, an events coordinator for Mr. Rick's Beach Bar & Night Club in Avila Beach. "Customers will ask the servers if they have seen the shark."

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