When just one great white shark is spotted, it’s a big deal. But when a pack, dare I say an ominous gang of these killers of the deep, is observed, it’s like a nightmare come to life. And, it’s also quite rare.
Earlier this month, that anomalous nightmare became a reality when a group of 20 or more great whites was spotted by the U.S. Coast Guard during a routine fly-over off of Pacifica and Ocean Beach, reports SF Gate. Most of the sharks were juveniles – 10 to 15 feet long – but some of them appeared to be up to 18 feet long. The pack was spotted just 100 yards off of Pacifica and Ocean Beach – two of the Bay Area’s popular swimming, surfing, and windsurfing beaches – which spawned concern for the safety of local residents.
“This is the first I’d heard of near-shore aggregating in such an urban area,” Mary Jane Schramm, spokeswoman for the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, told SF Gate.
“I won’t stop enjoying the ocean, but I might swim and surf somewhere else for a few days,” said David McGuire, director of Shark Stewards, a nonprofit shark conservation group.
Though not a whole lot is known about the intricacies of great white behavior, they are typically known to travel and hunt alone. That’s why this large grouping was somewhat of a rare and concerning sight. Hammerheads, on the other hand, are more known for traveling in schools. Although the grouping was unusual, shark sightings up and down the California coast (great whites and a few hammerheads) have been heightened this year due to rising water temperatures from El Niño.
Also earlier this month, a juvenile shark made an appearance even closer to the urban centers of San Francisco, when visitors of Alcatraz island watched the beast violently maul a seal. All these incidents are just a few of many sign posts along the highway of hysterics that is making 2015 the Year of the Shark.