Shark Sightings Increase Along Coast
By Lauren Bray, edhat staff
Shark sightings have increased along the Central Coast this past month.
On Monday, a 13-foot Great White Shark was seen feeding on a dolphin off East Beach near Stearns Wharf, reports Peter Howorth of the Santa Barbara Marine Mammal Center. Local authorities posted warning signs to the public.
Again on Tuesday, a stand-up paddleboarder observed a 6-7 foot Great White Shark near Serena Cove off the coast of Carpinteria. Both reports were posted through the Shark Research Committee.
The shark sighting advisory is scheduled to be lifted after 12:00 p.m. on Thursday.
White sharks are generally found in temperate coastal surface waters in all major oceans. They can exceed twenty feet in length and weigh over 4,000 pounds, but sharks seen near southern California are typically "juveniles" ranging from 10-to-12 feet. They reach maturity around 15 years of age and can live to be over 30.
White sharks are a highly migratory species that continually return to the same coastal hotspots. According to a study by Dr. Salvador Jorgenson, Pacific white sharks have a highly predictable migratory cycle, traveling from northern California along the coast in areas of warm water between Baja California and Hawaii during the summer months.
(Source: Future of the Oceans)
"Sharks are some of the most important species in our marine environment, keeping our coastal ocean healthy and functioning," said Ana Sofia Guerra, a Marine Science Researcher at UC Santa Barbara. "We are fortunate that their populations are recovering along the California coast, but it does mean we have to relearn to share the ocean with those that have occupied it for far longer than we have."
Great white sharks were added to California's Endangered Species Act in 2013. Just a year later a new study estimated population growth of great white sharks along the California coastline to be approximately 2,400.
For those nervous to dip their toes in the water, keep in mind shark attacks are rare. They average just 16 per year in the United States according to National Geographic, with slightly less than one shark-attack fatality every two years. Meanwhile, in the coastal U.S. states alone, lightning strikes and kills more than 41 people each year. So, there's a little perspective.
But if you're still having doubts, CSU Long Beach put together a video to help beachgoers, waveriders, swimmers, and divers increase their "Ocean Smarts" when sharks are present.