We've come a long way since the portrayal of sharks as watery terror demons. But still, reports of a group of 15 great whites off the coast of California is enough to give pause to the most committed, especially as sightings seem to be on the up recently.
It's thought that the dozen plus sharks spotted at Capistrano are great whites – with some lurking around 10 yards off the shore. Lifeguards issued a warning yesterday telling people to ''exit the water in a calm manner'' and advised people to steer clear for the time being.
There's a pretty strange vibe going on along that stretch of SoCal right now. Several shark sightings have been logged since the bells heralded in the start of 2017, including a breach at Lowers. That was before a woman was attacked at Churches recently.
There was also a report of another attack on May 3 where Sophia Raab claimed to have been bitten at Pacific Palisades, prompting more hysteria. But it has not been confirmed whether it was actually a bite, with speculation mounting that it was actually a fin injury. "I've no idea what happened,'' says Sophia, via a gofundme page and describes the incident happening when she was paddling in and feeling a burst of pain in her leg.
Lifeguard Jason Young, said there's been two reports of sightings in the Capo Beach area. He said: “The report we got from the sheriff’s was very similar to the reports we’ve had before with the juveniles in the area at Beach Road,” he said. “We had dropped the advisory as of yesterday and put it back on today (Wednesday).”
However, Jason did confirm that: “We haven’t had any reports of anyone being bumped or charged, just observations of them either swimming or breaching.''
An OC County sheriff's department helicopter captured drone footage of some of the sharks at Capo yesterday. “You are paddling next to approximately 15 great white sharks,'' deputy Brian Stockbridge can be heard saying in the clip, which you can see below, shot around 1.50pm yesterday. And that isn't the only footage to emerge recently. Local photographers have fired up the drones to capture the shark party, just off the shore.
Speaking to the OC Register, Chris Lowe, director of Shark Lab at Cal State Long Beach explains his theory as to why sightings are on the rise: ''Ocean temperatures are rising, causing them to live in places they’ve never lived before. Populations are coming back.
And ocean conditions may be pushing them to new places. Sure, there's many more factors that go into where a shark will live, such as rising sea levels – which push great whites closer to local shores but Chris says there still is a lot of unknown factors and that is ''the scary part.''
But is it cause for surfers to freak? ''We should be worried, to an extent,” Lowe said. “But we should also be encouraged.” Lowe and his team have tagged sharks from Ventura to San Onofre with hundreds of beacons along the coast set up to track their migrator behaviour.
So far, they've found sharks like to stay in ''hot spots'', with the team identifying Santa Monica, Hermosa and Manhattan Beach, Surfside in Seal Beach, San Onofre and, most recently, Long Beach near Alamitos Bay, as shark hang outs. Once there, data suggests juveniles will stay in one position for around 40 days and, as they grow, will flit between various hot spots.
Check out Orangecountyoutdoors.com for more Orange County marine wildlife footage.