Jeff Wallis, Shaun Fowler and another surfer from Imperial Beach spotted a great white shark about 150 yards from shore Tuesday morning near Beach Avenue and South Seacoast Drive, city lifeguard captain Robert Stabenow said.
Wallis said he was at the beach with professional surfer Sean Fowler for some morning pictures when the shark emerged.
Before the shark emerged, whales and dolphins in the area scattered, he said.
"It was like you'd walked into a dark room and turned the lights on and the cockroaches scattered. Every one of those dolphins went in opposite directions and, then I saw the fin," he said. Wallis said he was fairly certain it was a great white shark since he has seen them before when fishing Guadalupe Island in Mexico.
"All three of them saw the shark surface and it was on the surface for about 15 to 20 seconds and disappeared," Stabenow said. Wallis then took a photo with his cell phone. Only a portion of the shark's fin apears to be visible in the photo, he said.
Lifeguards called Scripps Institution of Oceanography who referred them to the Shark Research Commmittee who verified that the dorsal fin was in fact a great white and predicted the shark to be 16 to 18 feet long.
Advisory signs have been posted at beach entrances and will stay posted until Friday unless another sighting is reported. No sightings have been reported since Tuesday, Stabenow said. He urged people who want a sign for their own to download it from the city website instead of stealing them from the beach and endangering public safety.
Great white sharks were spotted .
"For great whites to come this close to shore, this far south, this time of year is definitely out of the norm," Stabenow said.
The beach is still open, though beachgoers who spot a shark or dead marine life are asked to contact Imperial Beach lifeguards at 619-423-8328.
Correction: The original version of this article said the shark was seen on Monday. The shark was spotted Tuesday morning.