It was a busy Fourth of July weekend at the beach.
While thousands played on the sand and in the surf, two shark bites were reported on the California Coast.
On Saturday, two men surfing near the Oceano Dunes encountered a shark who bit a chunk out of one of their boards. They were not injured.
Farther down the coast, in Manhattan Beach, a man was attacked by a great white shark while swimming near the pier. Witnesses say the shark may have been provoked.
It had been hooked by a fisherman on a nearby pier and was thrashing in the water for more than 30 minutes before biting Steven Robles. He is out of the hospital and recovering.
Shark experts say while these incidents may be unnerving, there is no cause for alarm. Shark bites and attacks are still rare.
According to research, there were 39 reported shark attacks in California from 2001 to 2013.
The last fatal shark attack in California happened in 2012 at Surf Beach. Two year's earlier a UCSB student was killed by a shark in the same area.
Dr. Chris Lowe is a Professor of Marine Biology and Director of the Shark Lab at Cal State Long Beach.
He explains, "Once you get north of Santa Barbara, once you get around point conception, we see typically see sub-adult and adult sharks coming in close to the shoreline. In some cases, there is greater a likelihood of shark interaction in places that are less populated by people."
Lowe says while great white attacks have increased at a steady rate since the 1990's, the rate is still lower when compared to the number of people using the ocean.
"We are putting a lot more people in the ocean than we did ten, twenty, thirty years ago. Even though the number of sharks going up, the rate of shark attacks isn't mirroring that rate," Lowe said.
In fact, most marine mammals are making a comeback because of ocean conservation efforts. Lowe said, "One of the things people need to realize is that the big animals are coming back. The seals, sea lions, dolphins, and the sharks."
The bottom line is people need to get used to sharing the ocean with them.
"It's exciting to see these animals come back. We've spent a lot of time and a lot of money to bring these populations back. What it comes down to is we have to learn how to share the ocean with them. Obviously we don't want to go back to where we were, when we had a predator-less ocean," Lowe said.
The Director of the Santa Barbara Museum of Natural History Sea Center in Santa Barbara agrees.
Amanda Allen said, "Sharks are definitely important animals in our ecosystem. We want those top predators to be there. We want a healthy ocean ecosystem and healthy oceans have sharks."
If you want to learn more, the Sea Center has a display where visitors can touch four shark species and learn more about these animals.
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