MOSS LANDING, Monterey County (KPIX 5) — Great white sharks are known as fearsome predators, but in the Monterey Bay there is more fascination than fear over what may be a great white shark baby boom.
Great white shark sightings have been on the rise in the waters of Monterey Bay, but what’s unusual this year are the high number of juvenile or younger sharks being spotted.
That’s leading to speculation that the bay might be not only a breeding ground, but also some sort of a shark nursery.
You’re unlikely to see them from the shoreline, but Monterey Bay helicopter pilot Chris Gularte says from his perspective 1000 feet up, it’s easy to see what some are calling a population explosion of great white sharks.
“Recently we’ve been seeing really big sharks, and then a little baby,” said Gularte.
Gularte has been flying sightseeing trips over Monterey Bay for decades. In recent weeks, he and others have been seeing up to 60 sharks on a single flight.
“And what we’ve been seeing has been developing into what really looks like the great white sharks have been having their babies in the Monterey Bay, which is super, super cool,” said Gularte.
Little is known about how and where great white sharks give birth, but if true, his would be the farthest north a great white shark nesting area has been discovered.
Gularte says the sharks seem unusually docile around humans out in the water. He’s hoping state and federal scientists begin tagging and tracking the great whites in the area, so everyone can learn more.
“Up to 60 great white sharks, mixing with surfers and kayakers and all this stuff and it’s all on the shoreline here,” said Gularte. “You see the little babies, and you see the big ones and no one is getting attacked in that zone. No one is getting a shark bite. And so, why?”
Shark watchers say that right now we are at the peak of the observation season and that the number of sightings will probably start decreasing by the end of November.
Since 1950, California has averaged three to four shark attacks per year, but even with with the population increase, an expert at Moss Landing Marine Labs says the risk keeps going down.