Shark experts surprised over great whites along California coast

(Last Updated On: October 25, 2015)

A large cluster of around 20 great white sharks has been seen just off shore near Pacifica and San Francisco by the U.S. Coast Guard. This has raised concerns about the safety of local wind surfers, swimmers, and kayakers. Many of the sharks were between 10 and 18 feet long and were viewed as a group just 100 yards offshore by two Coast Guard helicopter pilots on October 16.

Mary Jane Schramm, spokesperson for the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, said Lt. Beau Belanger, one of the pilots, told her a couple were “really big” at around 18 feet long. Schramm said she couldn’t remember ever seeing so many large sharks in one place. The northeastern Pacific white sharks can grow up to 21 feet long and weigh as much as 7,000 pounds.

Unusually high water temps along the coast has caused a higher-than-normal number of young white sharks, usually under 10 feet long, to gather near the coast, but according to the director of Shark Stewards, “an 18-foot shark is a very large, mature shark and can cause considerable harm to seals or humans.”

Shark Stewards has set up a hashtag on Twitter called #Sharkwatch to allow swimmers, surfers, and kayakers to monitor sharks. He urges those who want to play in the ocean to obey posted signs, be vigilant, and monitor the Shark Stewards website.