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Researchers increasing efforts to study sharks at San Diego beaches after rise in sightings

In 2020, Cal State Long Beach researchers tagged 21 sharks in San Diego County.

SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — Researchers from Cal State Long Beach are expanding efforts to study shark behavior along the Del Mar coastline.

It comes as more sightings have been reported in the area.

Del Mar lifeguards have been working with the researchers to track sharks in hopes of figuring out why they're here, and their impact on beachgoers.

"So we've seen up to 10 sharks at a time in an area probably the size of two football fields," said Dr. Chris Lowe, professor of marine biology and director of the Shark Lab at Cal State Long Beach.

On May 3, Dr. Lowe gave a presentation at the Del Mar City Council meeting to update city leaders on what his research has shown, noting that Del Mar, as well as neighboring Solana Beach, and Coronado are quickly becoming Southern California hot spots.

"Those sharks are using that nursery in San Diego in a way that we haven't seen in the past, so not only are the sharks there and are coming back to that location but we've seen sharks over winter there and that's something we haven't seen in many of the other locations," said Dr. Lowe.

Dr. Lowe said warmer water and an abundance of stingrays, which they feed on, are contributing factors.

As for whether or not they pose a threat to people, he said the chances of getting attacked are very low.

"So far, we have lots of video footage of sharks in and amongst surfers and swimmers that they don't seem to be bothering people."

Still, Dr. Lowe said behaviors change, which is why this research is so important.

Using drones, tags and underwater receiver buoys, he's able to map out a shark's movement.

In 2020, he and his team detected 21 sharks in San Diego County alone.

Using state funds, he's working to tag more and add additional receivers.

Ideally, he'd like to be able to let the public know where and when they can expect to encounter a shark.

He's also studying the economic impact of beach closures as they relate to shark sightings.

"How long will the sharks be there and when will they leave? And of course, the lifeguards really wanna know that because once those aggregations are there, they're usually dealing with shark sightings on a daily basis."

Dr. Lowe said between now and early fall is when you'll likely see sharks off our local beaches.

His advice-be aware of your surroundings.

For example, if you see birds diving, or fish jumping, that could be a sign a shark is near.

WATCH: Shark swims around surfer off the coast of La Jolla in San Diego

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