Researchers at California State University, Long Beach, used drones to study juvenile white sharks along the Southern California coastline and how close they swim to humans in the water. Turns out, it’s pretty close.
That’s according to the university’s Shark Lab, whose researchers published their findings Friday. There were no reported shark bites in any of the 26 beaches surveyed between January 2019 and March 2021.
The juvenile sharks mostly congregated in two spots and swam near humans on 97 per cent of the days surveyed. They often swam within 50 yards of the wave breaks — closest to surfers and stand-up paddle boarders.
The juvenile white sharks mostly grouped together in two locations — in southern Santa Barbara County and central San Diego County — the researchers discovered through roughly 1,500 drone flights over the two years. Adult white sharks are generally solitary animals.
“Most of the time water users didn’t even know the sharks were there, but we could easily see them from the air,” said Patrick Rex, a Cal State Long Beach graduate student who led the study.
Researchers confirmed that surfers, swimmers and sharks can coexist peacefully but “we never expected to see so many encounters every day with no incidents” of bites, said Chris Lowe, a marine biology professor and the Shark Lab’s director.