Are There Sharks In San Diego: A Surfers Guide

Are There Sharks In San Diego: A Surfers Guide

When surfing it is important to be aware of your surroundings and how you stay safe. This includes but is not limited to what to do if the weather changes, if the waves become too rough, or if you encounter one of the predators of the ocean. 

Are There Sharks In San Diego A Surfers Guide

It is especially important to know about the oceans you are planning on surfing in if you aren’t from that area. One of the most important things you should know about is what is lurking in the waters below you. 

You’ve probably heard all the horror stories about people being attacked by sharks but how likely is it? Are there even sharks in the area you are surfing in? Well, we are going to answer all of these questions for you. 

San Diego has some amazing beaches that are perfect for surfing. Whether you are going to be surfing at Oceans beach or Pacific beach, we’ll let you know what you should expect when it comes to the ocean’s deadliest predators. 

Are There Even Sharks In San Diego? 

First and foremost you need to know whether or not there are even sharks in San Diego. Well, the simple answer is yes, San Diego’s waters are completely full of sharks. Though, this isn’t quite as simple as that. 

The majority of sharks that are present in San Diego’s waters are bottom-dwelling sharks and relatively small sharks. 

That being said there have been a few sightings of the scarier sharks like Great Whites. 

What Type Of Sharks Are In San Diego?

So now that we know there are sharks in the waters of San Diego, it would be a good idea to know what species of sharks are present. 

Leopard Sharks

Leopard Sharks come to the shores of La Jolla every year. In fact, thousands of Leopard sharks come there. The reason? Mating season. You can spot leopard sharks in San Diego from June to October. They are the easiest to spot in August and September though. 

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Leopard Sharks are considered to be quite friendly. Most people deem them as harmless since there have been no reported fatalities involving a leopard shark. There was one known attack reported in Trinidad Bay in 1955. 

Leopard sharks usually stay at the bottom of shallow water. They vary in size, ranging from 4 to 7 feet. The females are larger than the males.  

Horn Sharks

Horn Sharks are probably one of the most likely sharks to be spotted in San Diego. You can spot them all year round. Though one thing to know about them is they are tiny! They grow up to 4 feet in length. They also like to stay close to the sea bed. 

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They pose no threat as long as you leave them alone. If you bother them they may bite, but only if provoked.

Sevengill Sharks 

Sevengill sharks come in a variety of types. You can get bluntnose, sharpnose, broadnose, and many more types. This type of shark can be found at around 1500 feet to 2000 feet below surface level. They spend most of their time this deep in the water, except in the spring. During springtime, they can be spotted in the kelp beds.  

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On average they are around 1.5 meters in length but they can reach up to 3 meters. 

Sevengill sharks are considered to be potentially dangerous to humans. They are likely to attack when provoked and have become aggressive with divers when kept in captivity.  Although there have been around 5 reported cases of them attacking when unprovoked. 

Great White Sharks

The famous Great White shark is a shark you automatically associate with shark attacks. When it comes to San Diego, Great White sharks appear every year. Although the great white sharks that are spotted are usually baby or young ones. 

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These sharks are more commonly spotted during the summer months, where they like to enjoy the warm waters. There have been sightings of Great White sharks swimming underneath surfers in San Diego, so it is best to be aware of them. 

There have been a few reports of Great White attacks in San Diego, though there are not that many. 

Swell Sharks

Swell sharks have the incredible ability to glow in the dark. The sharks themselves are quite skittish though, so spotting them has been hard. They can grow up to 1 meter in length. 

Are There Sharks In San Diego A Surfers Guide

Swell sharks are considered to not be harmful to humans.

Tope Sharks

Tope sharks tend to migrate to La Jolla and Point Loma during the summer. The ones that migrate are usually pregnant sharks. Tope sharks are known to grow up to 1.95 meters. 

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They are not considered a threat to humans. Though there has been one confirmed unprovoked attack on a human reported. 

Smooth-Hound Sharks

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Smooth-hound sharks have been spotted at various points of the year. The good thing about this is that they are incredibly rare to see. 

Pelagic Sharks 

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There have been some encounters with pelagic sharks such as the Mako shark, Thresher sharks and Blue sharks. These are not commonly found in San Diego.   

Are The Sharks Dangerous In San Diego?

There have been cases of sharks attacking people in San Diego. Though when we look at the data from the International Shark Attack File from Florida Museum, since 1926 to the present day there have been a total of 20 unprovoked shark attacks.  

When you consider the data, sharks in San Diego do not seem that threatening to humans when unprovoked. However, it is always better to be cautious when you encounter a shark. 

The good thing about sharks in San Diego is a lot of them prefer to be at the sea bed, so those that are frequently in San Diego waters are unlikely to be seen by surfers. 

What To Do If You Come Across A Shark When Surfing

If you do happen to see a shark while you are surfing then the best thing to do is get out of the water. This is especially important if you cannot identify the type of shark it is with certainty. 

When you are exiting the water make sure you do it calmly. This means do not thrash around because that will attract the sharks attention to you. If you think that the shark is already following or paying attention to you then continue to get out of the water as quickly and as calmly as possible. 

Final Thoughts

In all truth, as surfers it should be expected that you might encounter a shark. After all, we are in their environment. The waters of San Diego have sharks in them, though it is nice to know that the sharks that frequent that water tend to be on the smaller side. 

Regardless of all this, there may be times that an unexpected shark comes into water that it is not known to be in. This is why you should always be aware of your surroundings when surfing. 

Sharks have a bad reputation that can be slightly unfair when considering the data of how many shark attacks happen. Although it is better to be on the safe side. 

San Diego is a great place to surf so don’t let the possibility of seeing a shark stop you from surfing. If you are really unsure, then there are plenty of things you can do to minimize having a shark encounter.

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