Beware of the Shark-Infested Waters of Northern California’s Infamous Red Triangle

The beautiful 200-mile stretch of coastline is home to 40 percent of all great white shark attacks in the United States

On the Northern California coast, starting in Bodega Bay and spanning down through the San Francisco Bay and all the way down the Big Sur, sits the portion of the Pacific Ocean known as the Red Triangle. From the shore, there’s a serene scene of beautiful beaches full of a rich population of sea lions, harbor seals and sea otters.

In the water, the scene isn’t so serene. This beautiful 200-mile stretch of coastline is also known as the easiest place to get attacked by a great white shark in the United States.

The beaches of the Red Triangle are known to attract many visitors, including swimmers and surfers, but adventure there at your own risk. It’s estimated that nearly 40 percent of all great white shark attacks in the United States happen in this region, and 11 percent of total shark attacks in the world.

The Red Triangle spans out just past the Farralon Islands, a National Wildlife Refuge sitting 30 miles from the Golden Gate Bridge in the Pacific Ocean. Sharks are known to frequent areas surrounding the islands, with some spending up to 8 months out of the year living in the area.

The area is a favorite for great white shark due to its dense populations of marine mammals, the shark’s favorite food group. When the Marine Mammal Act of 1972 ended the slaughter of seals, marine biologists have noticed an increase in Red Triangle shark populations, due to the protected all-you-can-eat buffet of marine mammals in the area. The predators have been protected in California waters ever since 1994.

A recent video was captured near the popular Aptos Beach, where Nicolle Otman is seen kayaking amidst around 40 great white sharks:

Marine biologist and boat captain Giancarlo Thomae captured the video footage. People who have studied the sharks in the region for decades have noticed an uptick in populations and the size of the predators.

Dave Ebert, the program director of the Pacific Shark Research Center at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories, who has observed sharks in South Africa, Brazil, Sri Lanka, has seen the populations flourish. “I’ve never seen such a concentration of white sharks that we’re seeing in Monterey Bay right now,” Ebert told SFGate.

Shark attacks on humans are still rare. Less than 100 attacks happen per year worldwide, and only about 5 to 15 percent of those prove fatal. That being said, swim at your own risk…

Active NorCal

Telling the Stories of Northern California

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