SANTA CRUZ COUNTY (KPIX 5) — The California coast is currently teeming with great white sharks, particularly in the Monterey Bay.
KPIX 5 reporter Betty Yu and photographer Marco Vargas on Tuesday took an exclusive helicopter tour over Monterey Bay.
The sightings have become so frequent in the area between Seacliff State Beach and Capitola, Specialized Helicopters pilot Chris Gularte says the locals have dubbed it “Shark Park.”
“The average great white shark grows about a foot a year. And so — what, we’ve been doing this for five years or so now? And every year they’re getting a little bigger,” said Gularte. “So now we’re seeing these sharks averaging around 15 plus feet.”
Even from 800 feet in the air, it wasn’t hard to see the stealthy creatures gliding just beneath the ocean’s surface.
“It’s warm, calm, shallow water, and sharks come in there every single day,” said Gularte. “We’re seeing it from the air, the boats are coming in, the surfers are coming in, the paddle-boarders, the kayakers, the swimmers.”
Scientists say that the water temperatures in the area have been slightly warmer than usual in the last couple of years, which has been attracting younger sharks. Historically they are more common near Southern California.
“Growing up on this beach, we’ve always known that they were here. But without having the aerial shots, it kind of brings it more to our knowledge,” said Corralitos resident Jessica Bruntz.
At Seacliff State Beach Tuesday afternoon, there was no way to tell on the ground what’s lurking within a hundred yards of the shore.
In the past week, great white shark sightings in Half Moon Bay prompted the San Mateo County Sheriff’s office to issue a similar warning.
Over the weekend, a group of fisherman near Alcatraz reeled in a great white shark to their surprise.
“People should be careful, a lot of visitors come here and I don’t think they take the potential dangers in the water seriously,” said Sunset Beach resident Swami Nathan.
Experts expect to see even more great white sharks in August through October, when adult sharks typically return to the area after their migration to the deep ocean.
“I’ve seen great white sharks attack various things, but I’ve never seen them interact with human beings in an aggressive way, where I thought they were going to get attacked,” said Gularte. “Certainly they’re curious and they can take a curious bite.”