CARPINTERIA, Calif. - A phenomenon that’s attracted documentary film crews from around the globe has returned to the beaches off Padaro Lane.
For the past three or four years, great white sharks have been spotted along the same stretch of Carpinteria coastline. Experts say before then, spotting a great white was a freakish encounter, with one or two a year in the early 2000s.
While there haven’t been any attacks at Santa Claus Beach, there have been more than 100 shark attacks recorded in California’s coastal waters since 2003 with five resulting in death.
The dolphins put on a show today at Santa Claus Beach Wednesday. Jon Shafer says the great white sharks are looking for some applause too.
“Within 15 seconds of my launching my drone I had a shark in my eyesight and I flew around for an hour and I saw 10 to 15 different sharks,” said Shafer, a local surf photographer, shark enthusiast, and fisherman.
Shafer says there’s been a large presence of great whites along Padaro Lane’s coastline every fall and spring for the past three or four years. He’s been on the lookout and finally got a tip on Monday that the boys are back in town.
“The main theory is that the sharks that used to inhabit the waters to the south of us and the north of us have been crowded out so much so the younger sharks are having to find new homes,” said Shafer.
Danielle Escalera’s husband is known to surf in the area. “I get a little nervous, I make sure he doesn't wear his wedding ring to attract them with the glitter,” she said.
The Ventura resident speculates that a nearby seal rookery is the shark’s food source.
“It’s their ocean, they have a right to be where they want to be,” said Shafer.
Shafer worries that people are underestimating the risks and inherent dangers of sharks just because they aren’t 15-feet-long, yet.
“I know people go out, actively seeking, I want to paddle with the sharks, yeah nobody’s been hurt yet but my fear is, something that came to, like with the Conception disaster, sooner or later something bad is going to happen and then people are going to be really up in arms about it,” said Shafer.
Shafer’s drone footage reveals the same apex predators returning year after year and swimming in knee-deep water. “What was a five or six-foot shark three, four years ago, is now a seven, eight, nine-foot shark,” he adds.
The shark enthusiast says as the great whites grow so does their appetite and aggression as they graduate from preying on fish and smaller sharks to marine mammals.
“It’s really easy to see that a human could be mistaken as a marine mammal someone’s out there with a wetsuit on splashing around,” said Shafer.
Shafer also speculates that fish emulsion used in fertilizer at nearby cannabis farms could also be luring the white pointer’s back like clockwork.
“The bottom line is you’re not safe in the water with these animals. You never know when you’re going to come across one that’s provoked and particularly hungry or what you’ve done to agitate it,” said Shafer.