Surfer’s Close Encounter With Shark Leads To Memorial Day Beach Ban In San Clemente

A surfer’s frightening encounter with a shark on Sunday prompted San Clemente officials to close ocean access at all city beaches on Memorial Day. Evan Garcia, the surfer involved, said he was knocked off his board by the shark while surfing at sunset near T-Street Beach.

“There’s people out there who have been injured by sharks. And I’m so lucky that it only got my board,” Garcia told KTTV-TV. “My mom bought me that board three years ago and I’ve surfed with that board in Mexico. I’ve surfed with that board all up and down the coast. But he made that board strong and that board saved my life.”

The shark, believed to be a juvenile measuring between 4 and 6 feet, left a foot-long bite mark on Garcia’s 7-foot board. After confirming the incident with an expert, officials closed the beach for 24 hours, citing “confirmed aggressive shark behavior.”

Despite the closure, some beachgoers were seen wading into shallow water, determined to enjoy the holiday weekend. “It’s Memorial Day weekend, we’ll live it up and have fun with the kids regardless and enjoy each other’s company,” Kylie Andino told the Orange County Register.

A recent study found that between 1950 and 2021, there were 201 confirmed shark incidents in California waters, with 15 fatal encounters and 107 non-fatal injuries. Undeterred by the close call, Garcia plans to continue his surf adventures with a trip to Hawaii next.