Cluster of great white sharks has Monterey Bay scientists in awe
An unprecedented gathering of baby great white sharks near the Monterey Bay shoreline this week has scientists as curious as the public about what happens next. The arrival of more sharks, perhaps even the giant great whites on the tails of these smaller ones? Or their departure from local beaches to the sites of large elephant seal populations for feeding? Most of the sharks are 8- to 12-foot juveniles, part of a rookery that has been displaced north by the gathering strength of an El Niño, said Sean Van Sommeran, executive director of the Pelagic Shark Research Foundation. “It’s the same process of dynamics and water currents that has driven sea lions north,” Van Sommeran said. No record exists of such a gathering in Monterey Bay or Bay Area coastal waters, though, perhaps as a prelude, a great white shark was verified inside Monterey harbor last year, Van Sommeran said. Rangers have since posted a shark warning sign at the kiosk near the park’s campground. A week after the first en masse sighting, a great white swam under a kayak Tuesday — and the paddler, a marine biologist out to see the sharks, snapped a series of photos unlike anything ever seen on the Central Coast. “I was just off the cement ship (the ruins of the Palo Alto, just off Seacliff State Beach) when this 8-foot great white shark swam right under my kayak,” said Giancarlo Thomae, who works as an interpretive specialist for a whale watching operation.