SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - A team of shark experts from the Cal State Long Beach Shark Lab were swarmed by kids on Santa Barbara's East Beach where they were handing out a new book and showing off shark jaws.
"We were trying to get the best information about sharks out to kids and not scare people," said Dr. Chris Lowe. He is a Marine Sciences Professor at CSULB. "We came up with this idea of a comic book for kids." It is called "Beach Days," by Audrey Hopkins.
Lowe and his staff are on a summer tour with his Shark Shack pop up. They were at a Junior Lifeguard competition with hundreds of kids competing from different coastal areas. During their breaks they came by the shark exhibit, asked questions and picked up the new educational comic book.
"And the whole idea is to provide information about sting rays, jellyfish and sharks and rip currents and all the things they can people can experience when they go to the beach," said Lowe.
Kids were checking out the pages right away.
"We actually had a kid come back and say 'where's the second volume?' He read through it already," said Lowe.
Junior Lifeguard Gavin Peifer pointed out some of the images and what he has seen offshore. "I've seen seals, dolphins and a sting ray once."
Owen Anton said, "they are amazing. Let the sharks live in their ocean. We are coming into their ocean. Imagine somebody coming into your room? You wouldn't like that."
Lowe showed some special features in the book that encourage the reader to get more information."We have little QR codes so they can scan that and taken them to a web site and they can get more information. We have things about sharks, the difference between a dolphin dorsal fin and a shark dorsal fin."
At the display, "we teach people about shark jaws, we teach them about shark anatomy, about the different fins. We use these as good examples," he said.
"We tell people about what is a shark nursery? Why do we have baby white sharks along our beaches? Why are there more sharks and where are they coming from?," said Lowe. "We have shark jaws so we educate them about shark biology."
Standing in front of a descriptive board with a water temperature guide and shark images Lowe said, "when waters get over 75 degrees we learned, smooth hammerhead sharks, tiger sharks and bull sharks can show up. We have to teach people when the water is really warm keep your eyes open for these species."
He recalled the last El Nino when hammerhead sharks were in local waters near schools of yellowtail in an area that indicated a rising ocean temperature.
Kids also got down on a display to see how they measured up to great white sharks. Juveniles start out about four feet and grow a food a year. An adult female can be over 20-feet long.
Santa Barbara's East Beach was a perfect spot for this exhibit.
A crowded junior lifeguard competition was taking place with kids throughout Southern California.
Lowe said his student crew was excited to do the outreach and see the children who were fascinated with sharks. The schedule has the team coming to Ventura county beaches later in the month.
There will be a Shark Lab open house Saturday at Cal State Long Beach. For more information go to: https://www.csulb.edu/shark-lab
Dr. Lowe will also be featured in a National Geographic special on the world's biggest shark. For more information go to: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/animals/2019/07/rare-footage-three-female-great-white-sharks/
To learn more about the book "Beach Days" go to : https://lbpost.com/hi-lo/beach-days-author-teaches-you-what-she-didnt-know