It’s a Dolphin, It’s a Fish, It’s a Great White Shark

Big Fish Spotted Off Hope Ranch Beach

The five dark specks in the water off Santa Claus Beach are juvenile great white sharks, spotted on June 12, 2021. | Credit: Mike Eliason/S.B.County Fire Department

On Monday, July 26, a resident teenager reported what he believed to be a great white shark swimming near a buoy to the Hope Ranch Beach lifeguards. According to Jill Van Zeebroeck of the Hope Ranch Park Homes Association, they placed a sign informing beachgoers of a potential shark presence in the water. “This is the first time, at least according to the security officer, who’s been here for 17 years, that he’s been aware of one being reported,” said Van Zeebroeck.

This comes with a recent increase of shark spotting in Santa Barbara. “There has been a good steady uptick in the white shark population for a good number of years now,” said aquatic supervisor for the City of Santa Barbara Tony Sholl. “They started to repopulate, which is not a bad thing. It’s a sign of a good ecosystem and that all the conservation efforts put forth to protect the white sharks have been working.”

Footage of the great white sharks shared on Twitter. | Credit: Mike Eliason/S.B.County Fire Department

According to Sholl, Santa Claus Beach through to the Carpinteria Harbor Seal Preserve and Rookery tend to be shark hotspots. On June 12, 2021, five juvenile great white sharks were spotted close to the shore in this location.

“Usually when they’re in close, they are the juvenile white sharks, which are really a very, very low threat to the human populations,” said Sholl. Adult great whites normally stay miles offshore in search of larger prey.

Scientists believe flourishing great white nurseries are the outcome of both conservation efforts and the warming of the coastal Pacific Ocean. The warmer water allows temperature-sensitive juvenile sharks to comfortably venture farther north.

“You really don’t need to go out looking for sharks because sharks are all around,” said Sholl. “They’re not trying to go out and eat us. They are just trying to survive themselves.”

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