Great White Sharks Population Growing On California Coast

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water, the great white shark shows up again.

Of course, swimming in the ocean is a relatively safe thing to do, provided you take the proper precautions. However, if you are swimming along the California coastline, you may want to take some extra precautions.

The Journal of Biological Conservation recently published a study from Stanford University, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and Oregon State University’s Hatfield Marine Science Center. That study looked at the great white shark population along the California coast between 2011 and 2018, and they discovered that the numbers were on the rise.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

2500 hours of observation took place at all three sites. Those sites found on Southeast Farallon Island, Año Nuevo Island, and Tomales Point, are rather telling. Some 300 adult and subadult great white sharks were found. This isn’t counting the same shark over and over, these are different sharks!

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In 2011, a similar survey showed only 219 sharks, which was considerably lower. In addition, both male and female sharks were found in the area, but only 60 of those located were females in that region.

Photo: Science Direct

A co-author of the study, Taylor Chapple said in a statement: “The finding, a result of eight years of photographing and identifying individual sharks in the group, is an important indicator of the overall health of the marine environment in which the sharks live.”

He went on to say that the findings were good news for great white sharks as well as for the rich waters that are found off the shores of California.

Great white sharks are found around the world in coastal waters. Most people would consider it to be bad news if they were being targeted by the predator, but it’s actually good news because seals and other marine mammals are also on the rise.

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

As far as the reason behind the rise of the sharks, it may have something to do with the increased protection of mammals in the area. The 1972 Marine Mammal Protection Act and the 1994 Great White Shark Fishing Ban in California certainly may have contributed.

Overfishing and poaching are some of the threats that great white sharks face, according to LiveScience.


This isn’t only something that is being seen in California, study authors also point out that the Northwest Atlantic is showing recovery as well. In the Pacific Northeast, they don’t have any baseline numbers to go off of but the increase in numbers in the other areas is certainly promising.

According to the New York Post, the authors of the 2021 study said: “Given the vulnerable life history traits of white sharks, insuring their future will take a continued effort to monitor populations and identify potential future threats such as climate change and unregulated high-seas fisheries.”

I’m happy for the sharks but I won’t be swimming with them anytime soon.

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