The last thing most surfers would want to see is a great white shark circling their board. But when two of the notorious apex predators began swimming around Chuck Patterson earlier this week off San Onofre in northern San Diego County, he saw opportunity.
Patterson, 41, who lives in nearby Dana Point, paddled out at the same spot the next day with a high-definition camera mounted on a 10-foot pole, and used the apparatus to probe the murky green water around his board. The result is the accompanying video, which shows what presumably are the same two sharks: an estimated nine-footer and a seven-footer, milling beneath him as he paddled.
The larger shark showed up first, and slapped Patterson’s board with its tail before swimming off. The smaller shark circled his board for 12 minutes.
Such an encounter might make an ordinary surfer want to sprint atop water to the nearest dry land. But Patterson, a champion paddler and all-around waterman, is comfortable in the knowledge that Southern California is seasonal nursery ground for juvenile great whites, which are fairly abundant this summer and prey mostly on small fishes and other sharks.
Still, it required steely resolve to venture back out and stand once more above two of creatures capable of inflicting deadly wounds, and to do so with a steady hand.