Shark Lab tags record number of sharks off Southern California coast

There are more sharks in the water off the coast of Southern California than ever before, according to the Cal State Long Beach Shark Lab. In total, the team tagged 38 sharks – more than triple the number the director of the lab and his crew were able to tag last year, CBS Los Angeles reports.

“This was a big year,” said Dr. Chris Lowe, director of the lab, which studies marine animals. “So, even with COVID, we tagged more sharks this year than we have any other year.”

“And the aggregations were larger and stayed around longer than they have past years,” he said. 

Lowe tweeted his unprecedented findings and shared drone video of the great white babies and juveniles swimming all along SoCal beaches from San Diego to Santa Barbara.

“This year there were just more sharks around,” he said. “And the question is why.” 

An epic day on the water… lots of sharks, got some good data, excellent crew. #sharkspies #trackingnotslacking #treasurethesedays

Lowe is studying the habits of great white sharks to protect them and humans. But with social distancing and limited lab time, he has had to send fewer staff out to tag the sharks and was amazed that they found so many sharks still swimming in the region.

“Normally in our fall when our water temperature gets to the low sixties, that seems to be a cue that drives them to migrate south to Baja,” he said. “And so far, here we are mid-October, and the sharks are still sticking around. Maybe 2020 is going to be a year-round shark season.”

But despite the increased shark presence, surfers in Huntington Beach said they were going to take their chances in the water.

“Usually they don’t bug you, but it’s still kind of sketchy that Jaws and all his buddies are in the water,” Gary Winthorpe said.

“I’m not too worried about the sharks,” Kiana Harpstrite said. “I feel like in Huntington there hasn’t been an attack in so many years, and they don’t really come close enough to bother anyone.”

“It does worry me, but I mean, I love surfing,” Cole Wannemacher said. “I’d do anything to surf, so I don’t think anything is going to stop me from surfing.”

Lowe has 120 underwater listening stations from San Luis Obispo to San Diego that track sharks, in an effort to figure out where they’re going and why. The stations also provide an early warning system for lifeguards so they can tell those in the waters that sharks are near.

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