“Great White Sharks Near Surfers 97% of the Time in CA Waters, Study Shows” by Dashel Pierson via Surfer Magazine

“Great White Sharks Near Surfers 97% of the Time in CA Waters, Study Shows” by Dashel Pierson via Surfer Magazine

New findings from Cal State Long Beach’s Shark Lab show prevalence and proximity of juvenile great white sharks in California lineups.

According to a new study, surfers have company – even when they don’t realize it.

The report comes from Cal State Long Beach’s Shark Lab, and shows that juvenile great white sharks are more common than previously thought at popular Southern California surf spots and swimming beaches in San Diego and Santa Barbara.

“The juvenile white sharks were often observed within 50 yards of where the waves break, putting surfers and stand-up paddle boarders in the closest proximity to sharks at the aggregation sites,” Patrick Rex, who published the study, said in a statement. “Most of the time water users didn’t even know the sharks were there, but we could easily see them from the air.”

As mentioned by Rex, the study was conducted via drone footage from above. Over two years, researchers examined 26 locations on the California coast. And they found that at two locations – in San Diego County and Santa Barbara County – juvenile great whites between the ages of one and five years old were swimming near people 97% of the time.

However, there were no attacks during the study.

“I think people will be shocked by these findings — we never expected to see so many encounters every day with no incidents,” said Chris Lowe, director of the Shark Lab. “We’re also using drones to examine how white sharks behave when they are near people and how they may tell the difference between surfers and swimmers.”

So, although the regularity of sharks in lineups may be alarming, the fact that they aren’t biting anyone might change opinions on shark behavior. Read: they’re not out to attack surfers and swimmers as much as previously thought.

“It’s not just about sharks, it’s about people,” said Lowe. “This study may change people’s perception of the risk sharks pose to people that share the ocean with them.”

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