Scientists at Cal State Long Beach's Shark Lab say the baby and juvenile great white sharks that have prompted beach closures along the Southern California coast over the past few years are leaving the area for warmer waters.
Beachgoers should see fewer great white sharks off the coast this winter, according to the lab's director Chris Lowe.
The young sharks had lingered in the area while El Niño kept temperatures higher than normal in coastal waters, but now are apparently migrating south to a warmer climate in Baja California, the lab's tracking data shows.
Many, but not all, of the 38 sharks tagged by the research group likely went south, and scientists have already noticed a sharp decline in shark activity along beaches in Los Angeles and Orange counties in recent weeks, Lowe said.
Either way, residents shouldn't stay away from the beach because of the sharks, he added.
"There’s no indication that these young sharks really pose a threat,” Lowe told KTLA.
The juveniles primarily feed off the ocean floor, preferring creatures like stingrays and flat fish. “That’s the bulk of their diet at these sizes,” he said.
Adult great whites, meanwhile, are heading to Nothern California and the Channel Islands, where elephant seals giving birth to their young present better feeding opportunities for them, according to Lowe.
On Friday, a fisherman in Pebble Beach was badly injured when his thigh was bitten by a creature authorities identified as a shark. Officials had not yet determined that shark's species.