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Posted on: May 9, 2021

Lifeguards, researchers tracking sharks off of Del Mar

researcher in lifeguard boat tags shark

aerial image of white sharkDel Mar Lifeguards are working closely with researchers to track the movements of white sharks off of the City’s shoreline. The collaboration includes tagging sharks with acoustically transmitting darts, retrieving data from underwater receiver buoys, and gathering aerial images from a drone.

In a May 3 report to the City Council, Dr. Chris Lowe of the Shark Lab at Cal State University Long Beach said the lab analyzes white shark populations throughout Southern California. 

New data show numbers of white sharks are increasing after the species received protected status in 1994. During the past 10 years, reports of shark sightings have increased fivefold. Meanwhile, some 20 million people enjoy recreating along the Southern California coastal waters, Lowe said.

The Shark Lab has worked with lifeguards throughout Southern California to develop signage and response protocols and continues to provide guidance with identification and shark behaviors. 

New signage and protocols were put into play last summer in Del Mar after repeated shark sightings. Researchers in 2020 identified a “shared aggregation” of 21 sharks off of Del Mar.

Working with the Del Mar Lifeguards, the Shark Lab has deployed three of its acoustic buoys, which read the movements of passing sharks that have been tagged with a dart. 

The waters off Southern California are a nursery for white sharks. Once hatched, baby sharks must fend for themselves. Stingrays — which also gathered in great numbers last summer in Del Mar — provide an accessible food source.

A new study is analyzing the economic impact of shark-related beach closures, which have increased significantly during the past 10 years.

Lowe said that shark bites are extremely rare but can attract national attention when they happen.

Visit the Shark Lab’s website

Watch presentation to the City Council

sharks and surfer

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