Beaches closed after nonfatal shark attack near coastal California military base

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VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, California — Three beaches along coastal Vandenberg Air Force Base have been closed through the weekend after a 28-year-old surfer survived an attack by a shark, authorities said Friday.

The man, whose name was not released, was surfing Thursday afternoon in an area called Jacks Point when he was bitten on the knee, said Tech. Sgt. Tyrona Lawson, a base spokeswoman.

The surfer was taken to a hospital emergency room, Lawson said in an email. She didn't elaborate on the extent of his injury or his condition.

Lawson said the surfer is a civilian employee who works at Vandenberg.

According to witnesses, he was surfing about a mile north of Wall Beach at about 5:30 p.m. Thursday when the attack occurred. Witnesses described the shark as 10 to 12 feet long.

Vandenberg officials have closed the beach, along with nearby Surf and Minuteman beaches, until 4 p.m. Sunday.

A bite from a great white shark killed a surfer at Surf Beach in October 2012, and a bodyboarder at the same beach died in October 2010 when what appeared to be a great white nearly severed one of his legs.

"Coastal California is home to a healthy great white shark population," Lawson said Friday. "Sharks live here."

Vandenberg, located along the Santa Barbara County coastline, is a missile- and space-launch site about 130 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

Surf Beach, which had been closed for several months during the Western Snowy Plover's nesting season, only reopened earlier this week.

All three beaches provide nesting habitat for the endangered bird.

Lawson said officials decided it was necessary to close the beaches rather than try to keep people out of the water because there are no lifeguards there.

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