Surfing Shark

So Ashley Healy was visiting her grandparents near Santa Barbara, California, when she saw a thresher shark swimming about near the surf line. Thinking quickly, she grabbed a digital camera and proceeded to document a surfing shark. If you would like to contact her, she is at
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I, Ashley Healy, took these pictures of an 8 to 10 foot thresher shark in sequence on Saturday, July 31, 2004, at age 16. The pictures were taken on Padero Lane in Carpenderia at my grandparent’s house. I hear this is really rare for a thresher shark to be this close to shore, let alone body surf a wave. Ironically, my dad and I got the camera about two hours prier to the photos being taken. So naturally if you get a new camera you’re going to play around with it the rest of the day. Luckily my family and I had a beach to take pictures of. It was my sister Nicole’s turn with the camera so she was taking pictures of random stuff, when I noticed a splashing in the water right in front of us. I knew right away that it was a thresher shark for we’ve seen people catch them near my grandparent’s house every once in a while and I yelled “Shark!” and took the camera from my sister, who had no idea what I was doing at the time, and ran to the water as fast as I could. My family was right behind me. This is when I started snapping shots. The shark was swimming on the surface of the water about 10 to 15 feet out which was probably about 3 to 4 feet deep. It was thrashing its long eel like tail out of the water and was swimming in circles and figure eights. I was surprised that it basically stayed right in front of us for about 10 minutes. We noticed he was missing the breaking waves by inches. But this one turn he was heading towards the beach and it looked as if he accidentally caught the wave. He surfed the wave quite well for about 7 seconds and the wave crashed on him. While I was taking pictures I was in knee high water but when the shark caught the wave he was heading right for me so I stopped taking pictures for a second to get out of the water. Good thing I did because he went right over were I was standing. But once the wave past him and he stopped to turn around he was in about 6 to 10 inches of water. Personally we all thought he might get stranded on the beach. But he wasn’t going to go down that easily. It looked as if he used his pectoral fins as feet or arms and swayed from left to right like he was walking on the sand and used his tail to push out and turned around. When he was out deep enough he started swimming like he was doing before he was caught or he caught the wave. He then started to not swim on the surface as much and started to swim south and as quickly as he showed up he disappeared into the deep blue ocean. We were all excited at what we just saw and we all thought he might have been hunting or something but we weren’t sure. Anyway that’s what happened and I hope you enjoyed it. 

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