A routine Coast Guard helicopter caught sight of a large congregation of great whites swimming near Ocean Beach off the northern California coast, concerning shark experts.
A group of 20 great white sharks, each between 10 and 18 feet long, were seen swimming together 100 yards off Ocean Beach near San Francisco. The unusual gathering of these dangerous predators has recreational surfers, kayakers, and swimmers worried.
Great white sharks are not normally seen swimming in such big packs. Mary Jane Schramm, spokeswoman for the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, said, "This is the first I'd heard of near-shore aggregating in such an urban area."
Warmer water temperatures near the coast, seemingly due to the El Nino weather system, may be the cause for the heightened amount of shark sightings so close to shore. At least 20 sharks have been documented in the San Francisco Bay since 2006.
18-foot sharks are considered fully mature and are rarely seen so close to shore. The northeastern Pacific white sharks are a specific shark breed that frequent the northern California coast and return to feed at Farallon Islands every year.
A Twitter handle has been set up, #Sharkwatch, to alert recreational beach-goers of shark activity to avoid accidents.
It remains to be seen why the gang of sharks is swimming together but northern Californians are on high alert.