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Marine Biologist Explains Increased Shark Sightings In Santa Cruz County

CAPITOLA, Santa Cruz County (KPIX 5) -- After some two dozen sharks were spotted over the weekend in Santa Cruz County, a local marine biologist who has been studying the sharks explains why he believes sharks are being seen in increasing numbers.

Giancarlo Thomae has been documenting great white sharks along the Peninsula for the last four years are says shark sightings are the new norm. He shot video of a great white just feet from a kayaker recently.


"Four years ago when their populations first started coming back we'd see about eight or nine or so," said Thomae. "And over the last four years, we've been seeing more sharks and they're getting bigger."

Shark warning signs are posted at Santa Cruz County beaches, but they don't seem to be stopping people from going into the water. Thomae said he spotted two to three dozen of the sharks at New Brighton State Beach Park.

"I think that their numbers are rebounding," said Thomae. "They'll usually come into the shallows in the afternoon to warm up."

Thomae believe the great white population is making a comeback after years of poaching.

"Ever since the movie "Jaws" was released, most of the trophy hunters wanted to go out kill every last big shark they could find," said Thomae. "White sharks were protected in California as of 1993, and these sharks reproduce very slowly and very late in life, so we're just starting to see their numbers rebound."

Does that make our waters more dangerous though because there are more sharks? "The sharks have always been here and there's always been big sharks," said Thomae. "These sharks play a critical role in the eco systems and food webs in the ocean so the more sharks that we have is a good sign."

Thomae said since he started researching great white sharks , he hasn't heard of one report of a great white biting someone at New Brighton Beach.


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