Researchers see influx of juvenile great white sharks at North County beaches

DEL MAR, Calif. – She surfs the Del Mar reef every morning between 4th and 11th streets. Working as a surf instructor in the area, she’s also seeing what the experts are saying: more juvenile great white sharks are being spotted along the coast.

“I saw two (sharks) breach at the 15th Street surf break one after the other, sort of,” the woman identified as Autumn said. “I thought that was pretty unusual.”

Chris Lowe, director of the Shark Lab at California State University Long Beach, said they’ve teamed up with the city of Del Mar and its lifeguards to track the movements of sharks off the city’s shoreline. They are tagging sharks with acoustically transmitting darts which send data to underwater receiver buoys up and down the coast, as well as using drones to monitor their movement, size and proximity to the coast.

“We know that there are quite a few juvenile white sharks that we’ve seen, many of which that we’ve tagged,” Lowe said. “But there’s still proportion that we haven’t tagged.”

Lowe added that researchers can detect sharks moving along that stretch of beach in Del Mar, but that they haven’t been detected moving into other areas such as La Jolla or Oceanside.

Six juvenile great white sharks were spotted Saturday near 15th Street in Del Mar in video captured by stand-up paddlers.

According to Lowe, they’re not difficult to find. He has hours of video showing white sharks in and among swimmers and surfers.

“So far we haven’t seen any signs of what we call aggression,” Lowe said. “Curiosity, sure.”

Nate George, who surfs in Del Mar weekly, says it’s a bit concerting, “but it hasn’t seemed to affect the lineup at all.”

“There were a million people out here yesterday,” George said.

Lowe said that sharks sometimes are curious and will approach a board in the water.

“They don’t seem to really do much,” he said. “Sometimes when they get really close and you move, you startle them and when they go to flee, they’ll actually bump the board because they’re that close.”



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