Local News

Oct 25, 2012 12:59 AM by Keli Moore

Are shark attacks on the rise?

Shark attacks are happening more often because of a growing seal population -- a shark's favorite meal, said marine exerts Wednesday. From Nantucket to Hawaii to here in California, there have been more great white sightings.

National Geographic put some figures together, and reported that on average, sharks kill five people every year worldwide. And get this, a bee sting kills 1,000 people every year, and 3,400 get killed in their cars every year while traveling to the beach to go for a swim.

Marine biologists said Tuesday's deadly shark attack at Surf Beach was rare.

"A day after an attack you don't want to mess with that," said Landon Mortimer, a Morro Bay surfer.

Steering clear of Surf Beach in Santa Barbara County is what surfers advised Wednesday, but it didn't keep them from riding waves in Morro Bay.

"Unlucky, unlucky. I have never seen a shark, but I know a lot of people who have and if it's going to happen it's going to happen," said Mortimer.

Sharks are one of the great mysteries of the deep blue.

"They are a very difficult animal to study, but with new technology, tracking devices are starting to paint a picture of where these animals are migrating to and from," said Mike Harris, environmental scientist for the California Department of Fish and Game.

They can be 15' long swim 35 miles per hour weighing 4,000 pounds.

"Anytime you get into the ocean you need to be ware that you are entering the food chain," said Harris.

Marine biologists said the amount of sharks along California's coastline really depends on the amount of food, and a shark's favorite meal is seals and sea lions.

Researchers said great whites don't prey on humans; majority of the time a shark attack is an accident.

"I have lived here my entire life and I have never, never seen a great white. It's tragic and rare for what happened to that guy yesterday," said Vincent Shay, the owner of SLO Coast Kayaks.

Since the 1920s there have a dozen deaths from shark attacks on the Central Coast, and shark researchers say if seal populations continue to grow attacks will become more of a problem.

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