California State University Long Beach’s Shark Lab has documented just how close and how often juvenile white sharks are approaching swimmers and surfers off the Southern California coast.
Researchers used drones to document the activity across 26 Southern California beaches for two years. They often found young white sharks coming very close to people without them even noticing.
The good news: In all the interactions they documented, researchers didn’t find any shark bites.
The sharks are currently flocking to Carpinteria in Santa Barbara County and Del Mar in San Diego County, where 20 interactions a day were documented, researchers said.
In some cases, a shark came within 60 feet of a swimmer or surfer.
In the past, Santa Monica Bay and Dana Point have been hot spots, proving that they change year to year.
“We expect these current hot spots will go cold and someplace else will go hot,” Chris Lowe, director of the Shark Lab, told KTLA. “So what we always tell people is always understand that these sharks are highly mobile, they can always be at your beach, but rest assured, the data that we’re getting now indicates that as long as you’re not bothering them, they won’t bother you.”
The young white sharks are known to use Southern California beaches as a nursery habitat and leave once they get older. Researchers believe they are attracted to warmer waters, safety and easy food sources like stingrays.
Sharks are considered juvenile from birth to up to 6 years old, but they can end up measuring up to 8 or 9 feet long.