The Horrifying Truth About Sharks in California
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Are you ready to be terrified? If you swam off the coast of Santa Barbara or San Diego recently, chances are you were swimming with sharks. Yes, that’s right – SHARKS! A new study from Cal State Long Beach found that juvenile white sharks are more common at some California beaches than previously thought.
<h2>A Real-Life Jaws Experience?</h2> While this news may conjure up images of Steven Spielberg’s film “Jaws,” please don't panic. Scientists say it should instead be a reminder of how rare shark bites actually are. <blockquote><em>"It’s not just about sharks, it’s about people,"</em> Christopher Lowe, professor of marine biology at Cal State Long Beach and director of the school’s Shark Lab said in a statement. </blockquote> During the two-year study, researchers used drones to study more than two dozen beaches up and down the California coastline. Juvenile white sharks (between ages 1-5) were found congregating at two spots in southern Santa Barbara County and central San Diego County. <h2>Sharks and Humans Sharing the Water</h2> This is where it gets even more horrifying - sharks and people were found swimming together 97% of the time at these locations! <blockquote><em>"The juvenile white sharks were often observed within 50 yards of where the waves break, putting surfers and stand-up paddle boarders in the closest proximity to sharks at the aggregation sites," </em>Patrick Rex, a lab technician at Shark Lab said in a statement. </blockquote> <h3>You May Have Swam with Sharks... and Never Known It!</h3> In an interview with The Times, Patrick Rex called these findings "surprising" because: <ul> <li>People think if they see a shark in lineup (the area where waves begin breaking), they are going to get bitten or be in danger.</li> <li>The fish “tend to mind their own business,” Rex said. “And they come up within like 10 feet of people, and that’s happening daily.”</li> <li>"What we found is that they’re spending the majority of their time within 100 yards of where the waves are breaking." That’s much closer than originally thought.</li> </ul> <!-- This paragraph may need rewording/summarizing-->
So basically, no need for panic! No shark bites were reported at any beaches during this two-year survey. According to California Department of Fish & Wildlife from 1950-2022 there have been only 209 documented shark incidents in California.
<h2>Sharks and Lifeguards Can Be Friends</h2> Lifeguards, especially those at aggregation spots, can use this new data to help ensure everyone's safety during water recreation. "This study may change people’s perception of the risk sharks pose to people that share the ocean with them,” Christopher Lowe said in a statement. <h2>The Shark Food Chain</h2>
The young sharks gather in these specific spots for several years feeding on stingrays and small fish. Exactly why they aren’t interested in snacking on humans is still a mystery but researchers believe it could be because they’ve started identifying us as “not food.”
“But that’s such a hard conclusion to make,”Rex warns,“because we still don’t really know why sharks bite people.”
You’re Off the Menu! But Why?
<!-- These two headers above are redundant/ say similar things--> <!-- Such bad news :( -->
<!–Wow so happy I’m not shark food!–>
Nonetheless, no matter how much evidence we find or stories are told of near misses – what remains an undeniable truth is human beings do NOT appear to be part of their menu- (is anyone else disappointed? Just me…?)
Avoiding Unnecessary Fears Caused by Pop Culture-Against Sharks
Yes-there has been science-fiction spewed out maliciously against poor harmless creatures like Sharks-Spielberg’s Jaws which showed up in theaters back when some bosses were born lol- Oh man was it one helluva movie-and made folks run scared from engaging nature in a fearless way-Over time, however, movies like Jaws have had lasting impacts on the human psyche that instill fear when encountering individuals whose “negative” reputation has only been created by us humans. Science, instead of perpetuating more fear for sharks in particular (There are many other things we should be scared of), wants to show you the REAL picture of how you’re probably making friends with a baby-white shark while surfing or paddleboarding daily.
Warmer Waters Mean Fewer Vacations
And as if things couldn’t get any worse – Patrick Rex believes warmer waters due to climate change could mean these beach-loving sharks spend even less time migrating and more time terrorizing (sorry) enjoying California’s coastline.
“It means that the sharks may not be making that long migration anymore,” Rex said. “But we need more data and more time to make any conclusions on that.”
The Real Takeaway:
To sum it all up folks: You know what?? Turns out Sharks are sharing their water habitats with humans! UNHEARD OF! Juvenile-Sharks tend to congregate near certain beaches where they feast but generally do not bother their human neighbors-most tourists unknowingly swim/paddle-board right beside them hardly noticing at all…Why care? Simple-greater awareness & understanding can lead everyone towards feeling empowered around topics related to nature-We need no longer view animals like Sharks through lenses tinted by Americanized horror films like JAWS which merely serve industries seeking greater profits from our collective paranoia and mistrust …it’s high-time for us both species co-exist?-instead-of-stare-downs pursued-as-pastimes-.