4. La Jolla Cove
One attack (fatal)
Imagine your ultimate shark attack nightmare and you're pretty close to what happened to Robert Pamperin in 1959. Pamperin was swimming in the water off the mouth of La Jolla Cove with his friend Gerald Lehrer, diving for abalone while another friend, William Abitz, watched them from a cliff. What none of the men knew was that they had swum into a deadly confluence of circumstances.
The night before their dive, a dead whale had washed up just around the corner from the Cove, at La Jolla Shores. Compounding the already dangerous level of shark-attractive scent in the water, a Navy diver had cut himself on a rock and dumped a significant amount of blood just an hour before. As if that weren't enough, spearfishermen had taken a number of yellowtail, a large fish, from the same area. And it probably didn't help that there was a group of harbor seals that lived nearby.
During their abalone dive, the two men became separated. Lehrer was alarmed to hear his friend calling for help, and when he looked over, saw him raised out of the water in a strange posture, without a mask on. He assumed Pamperin was suffering from a cramp, but when he dove underwater, he saw that he was in the maw of a shark that he estimated to be 20ft long. So large, in fact, that at first he thought it was an orca.
Lehrer watched in horror as the shark dragged Pamperin to the bottom of the Cove. Unable to scare off or even faze the shark, Lehrer swam back to shore. Neither Pamperin's body nor the shark were ever found. The culprit could have been a tiger shark, but was most likely a great white.