Great White Juvenile Sharks Visiting San Diego

by on June 14, 2017 · 1 comment

in Ocean Beach

Last Thursday, June 8th an 8 foot great white shark was reportedly seen in the waters off Coronado, just outside the surf line at Silver Strand State Beach. Lifeguards promptly posted warnings to beachgoers and surfers.

Local observers cannot forget that in April, a woman was bitten by a great white while she swam off San Onofre State Beach. It was during May that lifeguards at Capistrano Beach in Orange County reported more than a dozen great whites at that beach. And in mid-May, Dana Point harbor patrol officers spotted four great whites at the surf line.

Does it seem that San Diego and Southern California ocean waters are becoming more inundated with the great white predators?

Not to worry, say local marine biologists.

Great whites – particularly juveniles – are commonly seen along the surfline this time of year. Juvenile great whites – about 5 to 10 feet long – are mostly harmless, said Andrew Nosal, a marine biologist at Scripps Institution of Oceanography. They show up in our local waters to feast on the high abundances of fish and stingrays, as they migrate to SoCal’s 70 miles of coast every year in late Spring, and then return to Baja beginning in November.

Nosal, who studies shark behavior and ecology, told KPBS, that a rising population among great whites leads to increased sightings. There’s an estimated 2,400 great white’s along the California coast. Nosal said:

“Occasionally we do have larger adults that pass through. But once they start maturing at around 10 feet we tend to see them hanging out in colder water, and they tend to start feeding on marine mammals like seals and sea lions.”

“In California, white sharks have been protected from commercial and sportfishing since 1994. And their food source, at least as adults — marine mammals — they’ve been protected federally since the 1970s. So the two of these things combined have led to a very strong recovery in our white shark populations.”

The great whites help keep local waters balanced and healthy, along with other sharks like makos, leopards and threshers. Nosal added:

“We shouldn’t be necessarily afraid that there’s all these sharks in the water. We should be excited because it means that we’re doing something right. We’re protecting them, we’re protecting their habitat.”

KPBS reported:

The two main population centers for adult great white sharks are the Farallon Islands off of San Francisco and Mexico’s Guadalupe Island.

Great white shark attacks off San Diego are rare, Nosal said. Fewer than 20 attacks have occurred in the past 70 years. The latest fatality happened in 2008 off Solana Beach in North County.


{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Ella Parker June 15, 2017 at 3:27 am

Food is the main reason they visit local waters. How long they stay in average?


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