A drone study by the Cal State Long Beach Shark Lab revealed that humans at two popular Southern California beaches are swimming close to great white sharks a startling 97% of the time.
"The sharks are there," says researcher Patrick Rex. "They were swimming under surfers, and didn't ever change their trajectory swing right next to people and nothing happened."
At the two hotspots [Del Mar and Carpenteria], Rex found that people in the ocean at these aggregation sites are close to sharks 98% of the time. Sometimes just yards away.
Rex found white sharks spend more than half of their time within 110 yards of the wave break. Surfers and paddle borders with the closest proximity.
"Juvenile white sharks use our beaches as a nursery. It's safe, has lots of food that's easy to catch and the water is warm but that also puts them in close proximity to people using the ocean for recreation," said Chris Lowe, the director of CSULB's Shark Lab.
Here's another shocking find: despite the increased encounters, Rex found no increase in bites.
"The really big take away is that when these aggregation show up the sharks will be there and you'll be there and largely they are not looking at you as prey," said Rex.