Should you worry about white sharks in SoCal?

[Update: Apparently many shark sightings were actually dolphins. You may consider being EVEN MORE AFRAID.]

Two more white sharks were sighted on Sunday right here on La Jolla Shores in San Diego, combining with last week’s San Onofre sighting to give San Diego County a little “Summer of the Sharks” feeling. According to the 10 News article,

A kayaker spotted a shark Sunday morning in La Jolla Shores that he described as bigger than his kayak. Later that afternoon, three lifeguards confirmed another sighting, just 50 yards from shore near Tower 30.

La Jolla Shores is my backyard, and I was snorkeling around there that very day. While I’m not going to lie and say that a 15′ white shark doesn’t give me a little quiver in my belly, the analytical part of my brain isn’t worried. Scripps graduate student researcher Andy Nosal summed it up nicely:

Andy Nosal, a researcher with the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, said there is an average of four to six fatal shark attacks worldwide annually. Nosal reminds beachgoers that just because sharks are not clearly visible does not mean they are not there. He said people should not be panicked because of recent sightings.

Southern California’s marine topography is similar to the land’s topography – rugged and split by narrow, deep canyons. There are probably always white sharks hanging out in those canyons. (Check out these amazing fly-through seafloor maps for a shark’s-eye view of underwater La Jolla Canyon.) Seeing a few sharks doesn’t mean that attacks are imminent – though I will continue to do my best not to look like a seal.

Miriam Goldstein (228 Posts)





4 comments on “Should you worry about white sharks in SoCal?
    • Hi Justin,

      According to one shark researcher at Cal State Long Beach, there has been a “population explosion” in the last year. So there’s just more sharks to see. This is definitely a good thing, as lots of research shows that top predators play a critical role in keeping ecosystems healthy.

  1. An 8-foot sevengill shark has been clearly seen by several Cove swimmers- it hangs out near the Slides and has been seen repeatedly. I bet many of the “Great White sightings” have been this shark. It is huge, but not aggressive (my friends followed it around for 10 minutes, and it ignored them). The total number of world wide “attacks” by this species? Five, since the 16th century! I’ve decided not to panic…

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