A popular Southern California fishing pier seems to have become a haven for great white sharks.
An angler on Tuesday hooked not one, but two white sharks from Manhattan Beach Pier near Los Angeles. The first was estimated to measure about six feet, while the second was closer to eight feet.
These were rare hookups, but not altogether surprising considering that there had been four previous white shark battles from the same pier since mid-July.
Because white sharks are protected off California, and landing them is illegal, the line was cut after the sharks had been reeled to the surface in all six instances.
Eric Martin, director of the Roundhouse Marine Studies Lab and Aquarium at the end of the pier, witnessed all six and in one case threatened to phone the police to persuade the angler to let him cut the line.
Juvenile white sharks are common in Southern California coastal waters, which represent a feeding area. But they’re generally spread out, are not commonly seen, nor hooked by pier anglers.
Martin, a marine biologist, said there has been an unusually large abundance of market-sized squid in the area in recent weeks. The squid could be attracting rays, small sharks and other prey items preferred by juvenile white sharks.
Chris Lowe, who runs the Shark Lab at Cal State Long Beach, said bat rays are common around piers, and that they prey on squid. There could be more rays, which are a top prey item for juvenile white sharks.
“It’s so weird because I’ve also seen two swim-bys recently, including one that involved about a 7-footer that ended up about 20 feet from a surfer,” Martin said. “The surfer had no idea.”
Juvenile white sharks, because they are common in coastal waters and prey largely on rays, small sharks and fish, are not considered a significant threat to swimmers and surfers. Manhattan Beach and nearby beaches were not placed under any restrictions after Tuesday’s shark hookups.
–Images showing white sharks hooked Tuesday on Manhattan Beach Pier are courtesy of Eric Martin