Great White Sharks Filmed Gathering in California's Monterey Bay

Over a dozen great white sharks have been spotted swimming at the surface of the ocean off the coast of California. The creatures have been spotted in Monterey Bay, to the south of San Francisco and San Jose, between Seacliff State Beach and Capitola, KPIX 5 reported.

Some measure up to 15 feet in length, according to specialist helicopter pilot Chris Gularte who took KPIX 5 reporter Betty Yu into to air to see the sharks. She reported that she saw over a dozen sharks lurking below the surface from 800 feet in the air. Gularte said he has been monitoring the waters for around five years and believes the animals are attracted by the "warm, calm shallow water," he told KPIX.

According to Monterey Bay Aquarium, the area is the seasonal home of adult white sharks. The animals spend months in western waters, sometimes as far out as Hawaii, and head to California in the late summer and early fall to feed on juvenile elephant seals. When the water is warmer than usual, younger white sharks are seen, too.

Swami Nathan who lives on Sunset Beach told KPIX 5: "People should be careful, a lot of visitors come here and I don't think they take the potential dangers in the water seriously."

The sightings come days after a fisherman reeled in a great white shark in nearby San Francisco Bay. Joey Gamez, who runs Golden State Sportfishing, shared an expletive-ridden video of his catch on Facebook.

Gamez was hunting for sevengill sharks near Alcatraz Island with a group of customers on Saturday, and put out a salmon carcass as bait, the Los Angeles Times reported.

"Today will go down in history for Golden State Sportfishing as one of the best days ever!" Gamez wrote on Facebook. He said the shark "was safely released Immediately."

In the past week or so, sharks have also been spotted at nearby Half Moon Bay. Officials have warned beachgoers to stay safe in the water.

On Friday 12 July, San Mateo County Sheriff's Office tweeted: "Multiple pilots flying over the San Mateo County coast have spotted great white sharks in the water today. If visiting the area please use caution."

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A stock photo of a great white shark breaching the ocean. The animals have been spotted from the air above Monterey Bay. Getty

However, Marine biologist Giancarlo Thomae told KPIX: "I would not worry about seeing these sharks," Thomae said.

"In fact, they are not in feeding mode. What they are doing is they are finding the warmest water that they can just to warm up."

Salvador Jorgensen, senior research scientist at Monterey Bay Aquarium, told Newsweek: "Great white sharks are common in Monterey Bay, but traditionally they have been large adults, and they are almost entirely absent during spring and summer. Large white sharks typically head offshore in the winter. These large and reproductively mature adults head to the White Shark Cafe halfway between here and Hawaii, and don't return till late summer or fall.

"What we are seeing now is totally different. This is a concentration of juvenile white sharks that are typically found much further south around Los Angeles."

He explained the started taking place in 2014 when ocean temperatures warmed during an oceanographic event that was called "the warm blob."

"That year we saw a lot of species of fishes, birds and crabs that typically are not found this far north. Right after that we have had back-to-back El Niño events and the ocean warming has persisted. As a result these young white sharks have continued to concentrate here."

"So these changes seem to be linked with more frequent El Ninos, which is one of the predicted outcomes of climate change and ocean warming."

As for anyone worried by the sightings, Jorgensen said: "There is also plenty food in Monterey Bay. Smaller white sharks eat fish and squid and rays. They only switch to eating seals and sea lions at a larger size. That said, the ocean is a wilderness, and people should exercise extreme caution when entering the water anywhere in California, especially where white sharks are reported."
This article has been updated with comment from Salvador Jorgensen.