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Tuesday, March 26 , 2019, 2:22 am | Fair 48º


Shark Sighting Advisory Signs Posted at Santa Barbara’s East Beach

Warmer water and hot days mean there are more people are in the ocean, which could contribute to more sightings in the last few weeks

Beachgoers enjoy the sand and surf Friday near shark sighting advisory signs at Santa Barbara’s East Beach.
Beachgoers enjoy the sand and surf Friday near shark sighting advisory signs at Santa Barbara’s East Beach.    (Gina Potthoff / Noozhawk photo)

Shark sighting signs have gone up at Santa Barbara's East Beach after a standup paddle boarder spotted a shark Thursday more than 200 meters offshore.

The sighting was reported at 11 a.m. when an unknown type of shark, roughly 8 to 10 feet long, was seen swimming 200 to 500 meters out in water parallel to Calle Cesar Chavez Boulevard, said Tony Sholl, aquatics supervisor for the Santa Barbara Parks and Recreation Department.

“It’s just more of an advisory,” Sholl said, noting signs would be posted for 72 hours before coming down Sunday morning.

“A shark was sighted in the area closer to shore than normal. Just swim at your own risk.”

Waters warmed by weeks of hotter temperatures in Santa Barbara County are drawing more people into the Pacific Ocean, where they have a better chance of seeing a shark or other marine life, Sholl said.

“When our water in Santa Barbara is 74 (degrees), that’s not normal,” he said.

A fisherman also reported seeing a shark 4 miles offshore this week — most likely a mako shark — but no signs were posted because it was so far out, according to Santa Barbara Harbor Patrol Supervisor Steve McCullough.

“It seems like there’s been a lot of shark activity off shore,” McCullough said.

There were two other shark sightings closer to shore last month, with one off Campus Point near UC Santa Barbara and the other near Jalama Beach County Park.

Warm temperatures could also be bringing out more marine species, said Michelle Horeczko, a senior environmental scientist with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife

"When we have El Niño conditions, we see subtropical species such as hammerhead sharks and manta rays, as the warm waters cause northward shifts in prey species and the predators follow," she said. "Additionally, populations of many marine mammal prey species and white shark populations appear to be increasing off California."

Sharks aren’t acting aggressive, Stoll said, just swimming in the ocean like the rest of us.

“The water is nice and warm so if you’re going to go swimming use caution,” Stoll said. “Swim with a buddy and stay within your limits.”

Noozhawk staff writer Gina Potthoff can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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