Shark Awareness & Education

Shark Awareness & Education

Coronado Lifeguards are certified by the nonprofit U.S. Lifeguarding Association to conform to national standards through education, training programs and promotion of lifeguard readiness. Their mission is to professionally and with the highest integrity provide the community with safe beaches.

This past summer, Coronado Lifeguards received increased reports of shark sightings in the ocean just offshore. The City and its Lifeguards have developed the information posted on this page to help educate the community about this natural marine wildlife behavior and what measures the City is following.

To help alleviate public concern, the City spoke with a Long Beach-based shark expert about the sightings and what the instances could mean.

According to Dr. Chris Lowe of California State University, Long Beach’s Shark Lab, the increased occurrence of shark sightings in the ocean waters off Coronado may be due to one of three reasons. First, since sharks are completely on their own from birth, selecting shallow water habitats may be the safest place for young white sharks. Second, young sharks need to learn to feed on their own and stingrays along the beach are an abundant and easy target. Third, the water is warmer along the beach. This can be important for food as well as faster growth. Sharks prefer water in the 60 to 78-degree range.

Lowe said the smallest pose very little threat but the larger juveniles, about 9 feet long, are less fearful of people in the water. “Despite this lack of fear, we still haven’t seen signs of aggression or a big jump in bites on humans,” Lowe said. He added that his lab is conducting a large study trying to quantify encounter rates and potential risk factors.

Lowe advises people to surf and swim at guarded beaches with friends in groups and to warn lifeguards if you see a shark.

California lifeguard agencies have developed a shark policy with help from Lowe, an expert in the field, and the Shark Lab.


Shark Sign

 

State Shark Policy Main Guidelines

Unconfirmed shark sightings are reports typically from a single individual without any supporting evidence or sightings by another party.

Actions Taken: Lifeguards continue to monitor the area and determine if other sources can confirm or deny the reported sighting.

Confirmed shark sightings are reports from an individual that is confirmed by multiple individuals, a lifeguard or other City representative.

Actions Taken: Lifeguards post the beach area up to one mile in each direction of the sighting with advisory signs indicating that a shark has been sighted. Lifeguards continue to monitor the area and the posted signs remain in place until the area is re-evaluated the following morning. If additional shark sightings are confirmed the next day, the advisory signs remain in place until the area is re-evaluated the following morning. This process will continue until the shark is no longer seen in the area.

Non-fatal shark incidents are when a shark is reported as having aggressive behavior (bumping, circling, rushing) near swimmers or when it causes an injury to a person.

Actions Taken: Lifeguards clear the ocean waters and post signs one mile in each direction for up to 24 hours. Lifeguards continue to monitor the area and re-evaluate the situation to determine when to open the areas.

Fatal shark incidents are when a shark has caused the death of a person.

Actions Taken: Lifeguards clear the ocean waters and post signs one mile in each direction for up to 48 hours. Lifeguards continue to monitor the area and re-evaluate the situation to determine when to open the areas.


Resources

  • California State University, Long Beach Shark Lab
  • Here’s a video the Shark Lab produced shot with a drone over many months to show many instances of juvenile sharks sharing the water with surfers and swimmers.
  • Click here to see a Shark Lab PSA on what to do if you encounter a shark.
  • Click here to view the Shark Lab Meet the Locals flier to learn about all the species that can be encountered off Coronado’s beach.
  • Click here to view the Shark Lab Shark Nurseries flier to learn about shark nurseries.
Download Ask Coronado App