Jun 8, 2023
For surfers and swimmers on California’s coastline, what percentage of their time in the water has been with great white sharks? Most of their answers would probably be a quiet, hopeful “Zero?” According to a new study out of California State University, Long Beach (CSULB), the real number is closer to 97%.
But, as they say, them’s the breaks.
CSULB’s Shark Lab used drones to survey more than 24 California beaches for the past two years. The team found that over 9 in 10 people enjoying coastal waters did so with a great white within 100 yards from them. That's the length of a football field. Most of the sharks were juveniles between the ages of 1-5. Though less intimidating than 15- to 20-foot adult sharks, they can still be up to 10 feet long.
"The juvenile white sharks were often observed within 50 yards of where the waves break," Patrick Rex, a lab technician, told the Los Angeles Times (LAT).
Despite that shocking 97% figure, the CSULB team sees their research as “great” news. That’s because not a single person was attacked during the study. This suggests that the scary reputation great whites earned through movies like Jaws is more bark than bite.
"People think, 'If I see a shark in the lineup (the area where waves begin breaking), I'm going to get bitten or I'm in danger,'" Rex explained to the LAT. "What we've seen is that that's not necessarily the case."
Photo by Olekdsandr Sushko courtesy of Unsplash.
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