According to marine fisheries expert, Burr Heneman, Northern California surfers were among the most active supporters of white shark protection when the legislation was adopted in 1993. The following letter was even written to the bill’s author, then Assemblyman Dan Hauser, by Eric Larsen, a surfer who needed 200 stitches after being hit by a white shark while surfing at Davenport two years earlier:
“I am writing to express my support for AB 522 to protect white sharks in California. As you may know, I was mauled by a shark thought to be a Great White on July 1, 1991 while surfing near Davenport, CA. My experience with the shark convinced me that sharks are an important part of the natural order of things. Any creature which is as well-adapted to its environment as the shark deserves a lot of respect.”
While Northern California diver organizations supported the legislation, those in Southern California, where there have been few incidents, seemed nervous about protecting white sharks and never actively supported the bill.