Study Finds Shark Attacks Off California Down Sharply
This is KPBS midday edition, I am Maureen Cavanaugh. The number of shark attacks on the east coast keeps creeping up. Earlier this week Marine became the eighth victim of shark attack of the North Carolina coast. Likely we are not the same boat so speak as the people on the Outer Banks, sensitivity can figure out why there have been so many attacks there and since it's the summer and since it's shark week, we thought we would check in with a few experts in San Diego about the risk of shark attacks and how to keep safe in the water . Heidi Doer is joining us. Welcome to the show . James Garlin is a Marine safety Lieutenant was San Diego fire rescue Department welcome to Thank you. Heidi, have you been keeping up with the shark attacks? I've heard about them and reading up a bit on what the local experts Inc. may be going on. One hypothesis I have heard is the temperatures often North Carolina or warmer. Sharks that might only be in Florida where you have regular shark attacks are moving to the north. It's not so much that if you look at a broader area the number is high, it's just that it's in a different state from where we would normally expect them. It's unusual for North Carolina? Yes. But not so much for Florida. Loss of limb is gruesome so that gets people's attention. Why do so many of these attacks seem to occur in shallow water? The shallow waters are a great habitat for those sharks. It's a great place to swim and play in the water. You have a lot of overlap between where people are and where the sharks are. All kinds of sharks to rehab in the waters here in California? We have a fair number of species from a shark attack perspective. The three that are most educated to our tiger, bowl, and white sharks. The only one that occurs in California is the white shark. Other sharks that people should be aware of and not provoke would be leopard sharks. In the Co., people can snorkel with Leopard sharks. While the attacks by those are tiny in number, if you grab onto one, that would be ill advised? Who would grab onto a shot? You probably don't want me to answer that. Do people? Yes. When people get excited, they don't think clearly. Look at the accident of Fourth of July with fireworks people people do silly things sometimes. You are in the kelp forest and its beautiful and calm in a seemingly peaceful animal swims by you, there may be the impulse to reach out. I have the opportunity to go cave diving and Guadalupe eight with white sharks which was amazing. Their people reaching out of the cave to touch the sharks. People do crazy things sometimes. Considering how people swim and serve in San Diego, we don't hear about many shark attacks here. We have a pretty low number. In California in general, while there are some, the numbers are low. Florida has the highest number. Especially in southern hell for you. We don't have a lot of drama for a white shark. They like to feed on marine mammals. The animals counted their order on the hundreds to maybe 1000 go if you look at areas around the Channel Islands, you have hundreds of thousands of marine mammals in all those worker ease. Hungry white shark would not necessarily come here . You bypass San Diego and go north? This whole area is a nursery ground, it behooves them to drop their pups aren't a lot of adults. The juvenile white sharks feed more on dish and other sharks. As they get larger, they make a transition to marine mammals. Slipups are not a threat?, Should not be. You get incidents or someone hooks one on a line. In a poll of what shark into a swimmer. That was unfortunate event with a person got bitten. For the most part, our risk from this smaller animals is a very small. The risk from adults is also small. How our lifeguards trained to watch out for sharks? We developed a shark standing -- citing standard are breeding procedure. We break it down into three categories. It's a possible sighting, a confirmed sighting and a shark attack. That essentially dictates how we treat the incident. If a lifeguard were to see a shark, what do you do? How do go through those particular items and get to the point where you get people out of the water. First identify, make sure it's an actual shark. Will send a vessel out for confirmation. We also have access to helicopter. Send air assets out to make sure it's a shark in the area and it's a dangerous shark. If it's within 500 the shore in a swimming area, we will close that swimming area. The vessel will start doing warnings will get people out of the water . The closures will last for a minimum of 24 hours and within a mile north and south of the siding. Do have to do that a lot? Not very often. Once a year or once a summer proved Had the benefit of going up to the first ever shark symposium that the lifeguards have put on in Southern California. We talk about it. There's more sightings lately. They talk about what is causing those sightings. Furthermore peddlers in the water with a can see more sharks or are we just seeing more sharks at the beach? The top the scientists explain the gill nets when away in the late 90s. Their managing armory assets that are and the shark population is coming back. It's a combination of both. There are more users and more sharks out there. Since sharks are not necessarily big threads here on a frequent basis. What are the biggest threats on our beaches? Our biggest threats are the rip currents and the water conditions. When people get caught in a rip currents, they get pulled out, they panic and he drowned. Army observation is rescue response. We keep people out of the dangerous areas key pivot areas safer to swim. If they get caught up in a rip current or serve, will make the rescue . Heidi, is California a good place to study sharks? Depends on the species. If you are interested in juvenile white sharks it is. The populations increase. The charts are -- leopard sharks are fascinating. They make sure their pups are big and healthy. With interesting corn sharks. Our group studies the local Meiko sharks. We have about out there right now that's doing research on those. Let me ask you both a little bit about shark week. It's also the 40th anniversary of the movie Jaws. What do you think this publicity has done to the public's perception of sharks? Some of their shows have stretched it a bit. I think there's enough hype out there already without that sort of height in the media especially if it's presented as fact. Have very small disclaimers at the end of pseudo-documentaries that seem to be very real to people. I don't think that does the shark of service. I think there's a lot of information that should interest the public without going to those links. Author Peter Pesci said he regretted writing the book considering the impact it had had on the sharks and the number of sharks that had killed because of it. To be still see people intentionally going out to try to kill sharks? There are some species targeted -- graciously. There are Meiko shark tournaments. There's a limit on how many you can take in so those are managed. White sharks are legal to take throughout the US. You get those yahoos that are ill-informed. Their hyper aggressive and make a lot to try and target them but is certainly illegal. James, what is sure in hack -- your input on the impact of shark week. We see more quote unquote shark sightings. Everything seen in the water is a shark. That's the beauty of our standard operating procedure. It that's the procedure and helps identify it was this a shark or dolphin etc. It's definitely an uptick and people talk about it. When we do our interviews of the witness, they talk about what they saw on TV. The other thing we see is people going out and filming and trying to interact with the shark . just recently, we had a group go out on a vessel and they started chumming the water around 830 in the morning. At about 2 o'clock, shark showed up to Six people entered the water and started to film with the Meiko and a blue shark. There was an interaction. We think the short -- shark bumped the person. Got caught up in their wetsuit. They created an injury of the diver who is filming and they came in. They had an emergency call, we intercepted them and treated them, brought them into sure and Chester them to paramedics. All the while, they wanted to hold onto their video village of what was going on. Dose of the situations we see from shark week. That's terrifying. All in all, with this fascination people have with sharks, a lot of young scientists got their start watching shark week. It fascinated and inspired them to go into that kind of profession. It's a pro and a con. Certainly. I can't see much of a pro to the pseudo-documentaries that make everyone think they are real. There are some really good shows on there. Time I watch is with a friend is going to be on one of the documentaries. I know there's some good research being portrayed. They're trying to make an effort to do a little bit that are. I know some of the scientists have stepped in with fact checks for the public's of people have access to accurate information. James, I don't think a lot of people are actively seeking to swim with the sharks. Can you leave us with some safety tips on avoiding sharks just in case. One, we have a policy and procedure. When we are warning people to get out of the water due to a shark sighting or shark attack, you have to listen to lifeguard. We will post it there is an attack. You need to listen to the lifeguards and stay away from the area we have posted as closed. Just be aware, these are apex editors. Their animals in the wild like anywhere else. You don't want to interact with them unnecessarily. You don't want to agitate them you don't want to create issues with the shark and the water. You may not even see one. You may not I want to thank my guest. Heidi is fisheries research allergist Southwest fishery science allergist SW. Fishery Science Ctr. allergist SW. Fishery Science Ctr., James is Marine safety Lieutenant was San Diego fire rescue Department think you both very much. Thank you.
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As the number of shark attacks on the East Coast goes up — a Camp Lejeune Marine became the eighth shark attack victim off the North Carolina Coast Saturday — a new study shows the risk of shark attacks in California has decreased sharply since 1950.
A report led by Stanford researchers shows 86 shark attacks occurred from 1950 to 2013, with 13 fatal.
According to the study, the number of attacks increased from 0.9 per year in the 1950s to 1.5 per year from 2004 to 2013. Researchers say this trend represents a 91 percent decrease when they factor how many more people use the ocean for commercial and recreational purposes than they did in the 1950s.
Human and shark encounters that result in injury or death are relatively rare in San Diego, but they do happen. A man was killed in 2008 off of Solana Beach while swimming with a group of triathletes.
Heidi Dewar, a shark expert with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, told KPBS Midday Edition on Thursday that there are few attractions for sharks in Southern California.
“We don’t have a lot of draw for sharks in Southern California,” Dewar said. “If you’re a white shark and you’re hungry, this is not necessarily where you want to come.”
James Gartland, a San Diego lifeguard, encouraged people to refrain from interacting with sharks if they encounter any in the water and to listen to lifeguards.
“When we’re warning people to get out of the water, you have to listen to the lifeguards,” Gartland said. “Just be aware these are.”