Shark sighting a sign of the times

Populations of great white sharks could be recovering along California’s beaches, as seals and sea lions repopulate new swaths of shoreline.

Surfers and swimmers spotted a great white pursuing marine mammals off Ocean Beach at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, according to a sighting documented at surfing website Stoke Report.

Such observations of the predators swimming near San Francisco traditionally began in late summer, but they are becoming common throughout the year, according to Shark Research Committee scientist Ralph Collier.

“We’re getting more observations,” Collier said. “The sharks are being observed and reported throughout the year from all locations from the Mexican border all the way up to the Oregon border.”

Until recently, sharks gave birth along Southern Californian shorelines in the springtime before venturing to offshore islands to feast on seals and sea lions, according to Collier.

But marine mammals have been increasingly populating coastlines in Northern California and Oregon, including Bay waters, which is helping sharks find reliable food sources further north along the Pacific Ocean coastline.

Additionally, laws that protect the species from being deliberately or accidentally killed by fishermen are believed to have swollen shark numbers in recent decades, Collier said.

“If you go to the mountains, you might see a bear and you might run into a mountain lion,” Collier said. “If you go to the ocean, there’s a chance you might run into a shark.”

Recent research concluded, for the first time, that the fish-like beasts occasionally enter San Francisco Bay.

 

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