Great White Shark Population in SoCal Increasing? Research Says No | The Informer | Los Angeles | Los Angeles News and Events | LA Weekly
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Environment

Great White Shark Population in SoCal Increasing? Research Says No

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Fri, Sep 2, 2011 at 4:44 PM

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Three shark sightings off the coast of San Diego in the last two weeks led to binocular-wielding tourists staking out areas like Mission Beach and La Jolla in hopes of catching a glimpse of a fishy dorsal fin.

The Los Angeles Times reported in their story covering the sightings that "researchers also think the great white shark population may be growing in California."

Last week, a baby white shark was captured off the Huntington Pier. Another juvenile was caught two weeks ago off Malibu and is now housed at the Monterey Bay aquarium, which begs the question: are great white shark populations growing?

A recent study says they are not. In fact, they might actually be shrinking.

An article from the Christian Science Monitor explains:

"It's lower than we expected, and also substantially smaller than populations of other large marine predators, such as killer whales and polar bears," said Ted Chapple, a postdoctoral researcher at the Max Planck Institute in Germany.

The study was conducted in a well-known shark hot-spot in the northeast Pacific Ocean, aka near us in California. Scientists identified 131 individual sharks and, from that information, estimated that more than 200 occupy those waters.

This research was the first, extensive census of white shark populations in a large region. But since the information is so new, other scientists, like Dr. Richard Rosenblatt of the Scripps Institute of Oceanography in La Jolla, are not ready to say whether or not the shark population is growing or shrinking.

But he does think SoCal might be a white shark nursery.

"One hypothesis that seems to be holding up is that females come to the warmer waters south of Point Conception to give birth," Rosenblatt told the Weekly via email.

Rosenblatt points out that sightings in San Diego could be the same shark and says that "shark sightings seem to be contagious."

Sightings also cause beaches to conduct mandatory closures too, which is like closing down a park because an unleashed dog ran through (dogs kill far more people than sharks each year). So, you might want to hold your tongue and enjoy the water one last time before it gets too cold.

And check the video below shot by an insanely brave surfer who filmed white sharks checking him out in San Onofre in northern San Diego County, it might change your mind about the vicious reputations of sharks. Note, the surfer was not attacked.

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