Warmer waters could mean more sharks along SoCal coast

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Sightings of hammerhead sharks in Southern California waters may not be so rare in the future. (KABC)

Sightings of great white and hammerhead sharks in Southern California waters may not be so rare in the future.

In the last two weeks, there have been three reported encounters with the tropical creatures. Two incidents resulted in injuries to fishermen.

Charter boat operator Robert Wagner had a close call over the weekend when a hammerhead grabbed the bait he was using to attract yellowtail fish.

"This has been a bang up year for hammerheads," said Cal State University Long Beach professor Chris Lowe, who is also the director of the school's shark lab.

He urges all who are out in the water to watch out. Warmer ocean waters are bringing a whole new food chain to Southern California and indicate a warm, rainy winter.

"For the last two years, the marine animals have been telling us we are going to have an El Nino," Lowe said.

Lowe has been tracking the migration of great white sharks with underwater video systems and robots.

He sees a pattern emerging. Unlike previous years, the great whites have not been swimming south to spend the winter in Baja California. Instead, water temperatures along the California coast even north of Los Angeles are warm enough for the sharks and the varieties of sea life they feed on.

The research is in the early stages.

"What we don't know is, based on global climate change, will this pattern begin to change? Will it become more rapid? Will there be more severe El Nino's than we've have seen historically?" Lowe said.

Meanwhile, scientists at CSULB's Shark Lab are observing shark behavior for the purpose of public safety. They will share findings with lifeguards and the sport fishing industry.

Lowe urges kayakers and surfers who get bumped by a shark to wait until the shark has moved away before paddling away. Above all, keep appendages out of the water if you should see a shark.

"We have to learn to share, so that's going to require us to change our behavior because the animals aren't going to change theirs," he said.
Related Topics:
sharksshark attackel ninoweatheranimal newswild animalsLong BeachLos Angeles CountySouthern California
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