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

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

Posted: Oct 20, 2020 4:03 AM

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

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."

"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."

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.

Oregon Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 394569

Reported Deaths: 5243
CountyCasesDeaths
Multnomah60720847
Washington42359405
Marion40153516
Clackamas33040387
Lane30428361
Jackson25105363
Deschutes23795189
Umatilla15144184
Linn14859183
Douglas13523293
Josephine10278247
Yamhill9840143
Klamath9112149
Polk8325102
Benton615338
Malheur593292
Coos5768109
Columbia438056
Jefferson424366
Lincoln365852
Crook343057
Union340756
Wasco318646
Clatsop263635
Baker221833
Tillamook218046
Hood River216537
Morrow197825
Curry193939
Harney121333
Grant109116
Lake105617
Wallowa76313
Sherman1933
Gilliam1854
Wheeler1141
Unassigned00

California Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 5107717

Reported Deaths: 74800
CountyCasesDeaths
Los Angeles153472027244
San Diego4091824350
Riverside3892365381
San Bernardino3762805983
Orange3352965756
Sacramento1690952452
Kern1582701828
Fresno1574692270
Santa Clara1528571928
Alameda1256281512
San Joaquin1080791835
Ventura1043091192
Contra Costa1042181056
Stanislaus919641429
Tulare867391100
San Francisco57141674
San Mateo56585631
Monterey52842626
Solano47828360
Santa Barbara47523555
Merced45309671
Sonoma43349414
Placer42458473
Imperial38932776
Kings35370367
San Luis Obispo31667360
Madera26388311
Shasta26221461
Butte25608318
Santa Cruz22402224
Yolo21722261
Marin18587249
El Dorado18448168
Sutter14646186
Napa13446106
Yuba1079891
Tehama10316131
Humboldt10294119
Nevada10112105
Mendocino864999
Lassen797656
San Benito787979
Tuolumne778491
Lake7057113
Amador580067
Siskiyou479657
Glenn458536
Calaveras445788
Del Norte377942
Colusa328321
Inyo257346
Plumas19577
Mono19034
Mariposa162218
Trinity100717
Modoc7936
Sierra2190
Unassigned1560
Alpine1080
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