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Technology A California shark lab tagged a record number of sharks off the southern coast this year

01:35  20 october  2020
01:35  20 october  2020 Source:   cnn.com

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There are more sharks in the water off the coast of Southern California than ever before, according to the Cal State Long Beach Shark Lab . In total, the team tagged 38 sharks – more than triple the number the director of the lab and his crew were able to tag last year , CBS Los Angeles reports.

San Francisco, Oct 18 : A marine animals research group has said that they located a record number of sharks in the waters off the Southern California coast this year . On Saturday, Cal State Long Beach Shark Lab , which has 120 underwater listening stations from San Luis Obispo to San Diego

A shark lab in California tagged more sharks off the southern coast this year than ever before, raising questions researchers are unable to answer.

an island in the middle of a body of water: One of the sharks tagged this year swimming off the coast of Southern California. © Courtesy Cal State Long Beach Shark Lab One of the sharks tagged this year swimming off the coast of Southern California.

Despite the coronavirus pandemic limiting team members and lab time, California State University's Long Beach Shark Lab director Chris Lowe told CNN his team still tagged 38 sharks in 2020, triple the number they tagged the year before.

"This has been the biggest summer that we've had in the 10 years we've been doing this," Lowe said. "There's still a lot of sharks around that aren't even tagged yet so we're probably going to tag even more before the year's over."

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Sharks have been showing up in greater numbers in the past five years , since an El Nino brought warm water and appealing conditions to the Southern California coastline . “Hot spots” of shark populations have formed close to shore in areas of the South Bay, Long Beach, Huntington Beach

Most of the sharks off the Southern California coast are of a particular age and size – pups and juveniles, ranging from 6-to-10-feet in length. That demographic enjoys California ’s coastal waters in the warmer months because of an abundance of easy-to-catch food (stingrays, fish) and water

"It seems like 2020 will be a year-round shark season and we don't know why. There's a lot of questions we don't have answers to right now," he added.

Along with a hike in numbers, the sharks are also being tagged in areas where they never visited in the past, such as regions off the coast of San Diego. The sharks are also lingering around the beaches for longer than usual, another odd behavior researchers are struggling to understand.

"What's interesting is that the sharks are sticking around this time. Usually they find a beach and stay there for a couple of weeks before dispersing and going to another hot spot," Lowe said.

"What's unusual is that this year we have aggregations still going since March, so while new sharks have come into the aggregation and some left, by large we still have animals we tagged in March that are sticking around and we haven't seen that before."

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Following decades of rare sightings, basking sharks have recently made several appearances near the California coast , giving researchers renewed hope for learning more about the understudied, open-mouthed fish.

A record number of whales has been recorded migrating north up the east coast . Marine biologist Dr Julian Pepperell says it is a "reasonable hypothesis" In the past five weeks, there have been three fatal sharks attacks off the east coast of Australia as well as another presumed shark attack off

While researchers don't know why the sharks are hanging around, Lowe said they suspect it could be related to food sources or a result of climate changes.

Water temperatures in Southern California generally start to drop in October, signaling sharks to start migrating south. This year, however, surface water temperatures remain warm, anywhere between 65 degrees Fahrenheit to the low 70 degrees mark, and sharks aren't leaving as they usually do, according to Lowe.

While some of the sharks are hanging around the shorelines of crowded beaches, the predators have not been interacting much with people in the water despite being in close proximity to them.

"It looks like a very unusual year," Lowe said. "Something's changing and we just don't know why. With all these sharks off public beaches, it raises a lot of public concern. The first thing is, do we have scientific data to show what these sharks are doing and does it pose a risk to the public? As soon as we get that information we'll get that out to the public."

Lowe gives this warning: Be careful surfing or swimming in the water, especially near seals.

After all, you wouldn't want to get between a shark and a seal.

a person riding a wave on a surfboard in the water: A group of sharks tagged this year swimming off the coast of Southern Calironia. © Courtesy Cal State Long Beach Shark Lab A group of sharks tagged this year swimming off the coast of Southern Calironia.

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