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Great White Sightings On The Rise

Audio

Aired 8/13/10

A man out for a paddle at San Onofre State Beach filmed a great white shark, swimming just feet from him, not far off the coast earlier this week. A shark researcher says beachgoers don't need to be concerned.

Chuck Patterson, a man out for a paddle at San Onofre State Beach, filmed a great white shark, swimming just feet from him, not far off the coast earlier this week. A shark researcher says beachgoers don't need to be concerned.

Patterson said the great white caught on tape looked about seven feet long. That would make it a juvenile.

Shark researchers say it's common for them to hang around in shallow water this time of year. Summertime brings sharks closer to shore because there's more food and the water is warmer.

Great white breeding season runs from April through September.

Chris Lowe is a marine biology professor at Cal State Long Beach. He says it's a good sign that people occasionally see great whites.

"In this day and age where many sharks have been fished out of many of our oceans, for someone to have the rare opportunity to see a shark in the wild is unique. It is something that people should look at as a sign that we can bring populations back if we put our minds to it," said Lowe.

Lowe says the population of great whites off California has grown in the last 16 years, since commercial fishing practices were changed to help protect sharks.

He says since the use of gill nets near shore was banned in 1994, more sharks have been spotted, and commercial fisherman have accidentally caught more.

Lowe says beachgoers should not worry. "People have to realize they're much more likely to die in a car accident driving to the beach than they are from encountering a shark in the water," said Lowe.

Come November and the first winter storms, the great whites will swim south to Baja California.

You can see Patterson's video on Los Angeles station KTLA's website.

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