A carcass of a mutilated sea lion washed up on the beach at Surfside on Thursday, the victim of a possible great white shark attack.
Philip Friedman Jr. spied the dead sea lion from the Phil Friedman Outdoors Radio Studios in Surfside during a live radio show and decided to go down and investigate.
“I couldn’t tell exactly what it was,” said Friedman who saw the carcass during a commercial break on the show. “It looked like some kind of marine animal so I went down to take a look.” Friedman said the stench was strong and it looked like the creature had been dead for a while.
Friedman took photos and sent them to Ralph Collier from the Shark Research Committee. Founded in 1963 as a tax-exempt, non-profit scientific research organization, the Shark Research Committee's primary goal was to assist Leonard P. Schultz of the Smithsonian Institution in documenting shark attacks from the Pacific Coast of North America.
This initial objective was soon broadened to include conducting original research on the general biology, behavior and ecology of sharks indigenous to waters off the Pacific Coast, with particular emphasis on potentially dangerous species.
“Although it is not possible to determine the cause of death, the sea lion did sustain several bites to the abdomen the result of sharks, most likely juvenile or sub-adult white sharks,” wrote Collier in an e-mail to Phil Friedman Outdoors Radio.
“The outer edge of the bite that exposed the rib-cage does demonstrate what appears to be individual upper tooth insertions from a white shark or shark's. However, it is apparent that the animal was at sea for some time following death, which would allow for multiple scavengers to utilize the carcass,” continued Collier.
Juvenile white sharks are known to feed regularly near Southern California beaches, which serve a as nurseries. Juvenile white sharks feed mostly on halibut, rays, smaller sharks as well as smaller fish. When they reach about 10-feet, they migrate offshore and begin to feed on sea lions and other pinnipeds. Statistically, humans have very little to fear from juvenile great whites.
“When I first saw the sea lion up close, the first thing that popped in to my mind was that a great white shark may have been the culprit,” said Friedman. “It’s pretty interesting to know now that that may not be too far from the truth.”
Phil Friedman Outdoors Radio plans to follow up on this story on next week’s shows.