A surfer or anyone who swims in the ocean is more than aware that they are not alone in the water. There are fish, sharks, and dolphins – especially off the California coast. However, no one expects to find themselves swimming alongside a swarm of great white sharks.
However, the number of great white shark sightings has dramatically increased off Southern California shores, which puts lifeguards and the Coast Guard on high alert, reports CBS News.
In one instance, the Orange County Sheriff’s Department was flying over shark-sighted waters and saw a group of paddle boarders with 15 great white sharks right next to them. Over their announcement system, the officers warned the paddle boarders to leave the water calmly.
In another instance, three great whites were found swimming in shallow waters just 50 feet away from the shoreline.
Swarms of Great Whites Clearly Visible from the Sky
With the patrols over the coast, the number of great white sightings are growing, and they are visible from the sky. The sharks are creeping into the coastline and while no one was hurt, there are talks of ocean closures. For now, however, OC Lifeguards have not closed the water, and they will only do so when the great whites are more than eight feet long and acting aggressively, reports The Washington Post.
For now, shark advisory warnings are in place. No one in the water has been bumped or charged by the great whites. Instead, they just see them swimming on the coast and some breaching the shark nets.
However, this is not the first instance of great whites in the area, and the area is known to have their share of great whites migrating through the waters off California.
Three Levels of Shark Warnings
The lifeguards point out that there are three types of advisories posted along the Southern California beaches. The first is a shark sighting, which means sharks have been confirmed in the area, but no aggressive behavior associated with the sighting. The second is a warning status, which means atypical and aggressive shark behavior noted. The third is the closure, which only occurs if an attack is confirmed.
One Woman Attacked Off San Onofre State Beach
In a separate sighting from Capistrano Beach in Dana Point, a woman was bitten by a shark on April 29. She survived the attack, and an advisory was issued for those in the area. The reports of additional sightings continue to roll in, and while beaches are not closed, they could be very soon if another attack occurs, reports the OC Register.
Why So Many Great Whites in the Area?
Sharks along the California coast are not unusual, but this many in a single season is rare. Experts believe that there are more people using smartphones, which might account for the increased sightings. Also, the El Nino conditions in 2016 created warmer temperatures, which keep great whites lingering around the coast. They will quickly return when spring ends to the depths of the ocean, but warmer waters bring out sharks and swimmers alike.
With more sharks spotted and an equal number of surfers and swimmers in the area, more attacks could climb over the next few weeks. Great whites can grow to 20 feet long and weigh over 4,000 pounds. Adults measure anywhere from 11 to 16 feet on average.
While great whites are predators, they are not dangerous to humans. Most people who are attacked by great whites live to tell the story because great whites only bite people out of accident – not purposely.