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Stretch Of Newport Beach Closed To Swimmers After Possible Shark Attack

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Corona del Mar State Beach in Newport. (Wikimedia Commons)
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A suspected shark attack prompted the evacuation of Corona del Mar State Beach on Sunday, and the stretch of shoreline remains closed to swimmers today, authorities said.The O.C. Register reports that around 4:15 p.m. Sunday, lifeguards spotted a female swimmer wearing a wet suit about 150 yards off the shore, waving her arms and yelling for help. When the lifeguards reached her, she was "bleeding heavily," and the wounds on her arm and shoulder were consistent with that of an animal bite.

Chief Lifeguard Rob Williams of the Newport Beach Fire Department said in a statement that they suspect the swimmer was bitten by a shark but were unable to totally confirm it, as there were no other reported sightings of a shark, or witnesses.

"We are treating this as a shark-bite incident and are asking everyone to please stay out of the water in the closure area," he continued. "We’ve resumed our search of the water by boat this morning and a police helicopter will be also helping us."

NBC L.A. reports that it's also possible that a sea lion may have bitten the swimmer. According to CBS L.A., the swimmer, a woman between the ages of 40 and 50, is currently recovering from surgery, and is expected to survive.

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Authorities told the O.C. Register, the area where the suspected attack took place is a popular spot for long-distance ocean swimmers that's closed off to boats, so a boat or watercraft-caused injury was ruled out by lifeguards.

Beach access is still allowed today, but ocean access for swimmers is not: anyone who enters the water along the section of Newport Beach that stretches from Balboa Pier south to the City's border with Crystal Cove State Beach will be evacuated by lifeguards.