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Eureka woman sees shark up-close in Trinidad Bay

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 TRINIDAD- A Eureka woman and her husband come across a small shark during a kayaking tour, and captured the action on a camera. 

On Tuesday, for Jenna Kilby’s husband’s birthday, they both thought a kayaking tour in Trinidad would be fun.  The Pacific Outfitters Adventures tour they went on starts off with technique and safety instructions.

"Jenna, like most clients do, asked me, 'Are there sharks around?’ And my typical response is not in this shallow of water but normally they are around and it's not much of an issue,” said Jason Self, the Sea Kayak Guide for Pacific Outfitters Adventures.

“Within a few minutes, I noticed a little fin surfaced and was hanging out by the rocks and so I pointed it out and he said he was going to go check it out, and it was a little shark," said Kilby.

Then, Jenna and her husband decided to get a closer look, and Self agreed, after determining they would all be safe.

“So we all paddled over there as fast as we can just to check him out and he was just doing little laps and minding his own business and doing his own thing.  He wasn't coming towards us, we wanted to check him out, and then we let him be," Kilby said.

The Director of the HSU Telonicher Marine Laboratory, who is also a marine biologist, Briat Tissot, says two of the three experts he spoke to thought the Kilbys saw a great white.  The other expert thinks they saw a salmon shark. Marine biologists say salmon sharks are known for not normally being aggressive, while great whites can be very aggressive, usually preying on marine manmals.  

Kilby says the experience has not scared her, and that she's already looking forward to her next kayaking tour.

"From all the horror stories you hear, it could of been a worse  situation or scenario or outcome, but I didn't feel that way at all.  No, not scared.  Definitely a neat story to be able to share. …We'll definitely be back," said Kilby.

Experts say sharks are common in Trinidad Bay, and the warmer than normal waters on California’s coast could mean even more sharks are present.  However, they say shark attacks are rare.

"If you look at Humboldt County, there's been ten shark attacks since 1955.   Five of those have been in the last ten years, so there's certainly seems to be a slight increase in the frequency, and this is a global phenomenon, not just here, but none of those have been fatal and when you think about the number of people who actually get into the water every year, that's a really small number of attacks," Tissot said.

He also spoke about the role sharks play in the ecosystem.

"They're really the top predators in the ocean, so they consume a lot of the larger fishes.  So when sharks are removed from ecosystems, it's been shown that these fishes become very abundant and then they eat a lot of the smaller fishes, which relaly disrupts the whole food chain."