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Study: Groups of juvenile white sharks congregating near busy SoCal beaches to avoid predators

Raw footage 6 sharks
Raw footage: Half a dozen sharks near the SoCal coast 00:41

Surfers and swimmers beware – a new study from Cal State Long Beach and University of Minnesota researchers has found that juvenile white sharks are hanging out in the waters close to the Southern California shore when beaches are at their busiest.

The study, published recently in the journal PLOS One, found that juvenile white sharks are aggregating closer to shore to avoid predators like adult white sharks and orcas. These sharks are typically five to six feet long and are most active during the morning and evening hours in deeper and colder water, when they hunt most often for prey.

(credit: Patrick Rex, Jack May/Long Beach State University)

But when they're not hungry, these young sharks were found to conserve energy by moving just enough to stay buoyant at the water's surface near the shore.

"We found that these juvenile white sharks are getting a big morning breakfast and then just chilling for the rest of the day," James Anderson, a Cal State Long Beach researcher and lead author of the study, said in a statement. "They're hanging out at the beach, cruising up and down the shoreline, paying no attention to pretty much anyone or anything around them."

(credit: Patrick Rex, Jack May/Long Beach State University)

Images and video taken as part of the study sharks swimming near a crowded beach, with several people in the water, and sharks venturing close to stand-up paddlers.

Over the years, researchers say they have found these congregations of juvenile white sharks have moved away from places like Santa Monica Bay or Will Rogers State Beach to waters off Torrey Pines, Solana Beach, and Carpinteria. The research was done with high-density acoustic arrays placed offshore tracking signals tagged sharks.

With summer heat in full swing, and the Fourth of July holiday weekend ahead of us, researchers say that even though there are more sharks out there than surfers and swimmers might be able to see, they don't necessarily have to stay out of the water.

"These are wild animals and wild animals are unpredictable," Anderson said. "But honestly, you have far more concerns driving the 405 Freeway on the way to the beach."

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