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LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Great White sharks may have been sighted off a popular Los Angeles beach in the last few days, to the delight of breathless TV newscasters looking for news on slow summer days.
But officials are reassuring residents that there's nothing to worry about: the sharks aren't that big, they are always off the coast and they only eat fish -- not people. And besides, even vending machines are more dangerous.
"There are sharks in the ocean off our coast," Capt. Garth Manning of the Los Angeles County Fire Department's Lifeguard Division said. "There have always been sharks off our coast. And we have never had a shark attack in Los Angeles County."
Manning was responding to reports on local television that Great Whites had been spotted by swimmers about 150 yards off popular Will Rogers State Beach.
He said that experts had been unable to confirm the sighting, but that it was not surprising.
"If they are Great White sharks they are only about 5 feet in length and they feed on small fish, they do not feed on people," Canning said. "But it's difficult to tell if they are because it's difficult to tell a juvenile Great White from a juvenile Mako."
Canning said that despite common fears over shark attacks, more people are killed in the United States each year by vending machines. He said that last year dogs killed more people than Great White sharks had killed in the last 100 years.