Scientists have not yet figured out exactly why, but the number of juvenile great white sharks observed swimming on the Orange County, California coast has dramatically increased. According to Lt. Claude Panis of the Huntington Beach Fire Department's Marine Safety Division, "I've seen more white sharks this year than I have in the previous 30." Huntington Beach has never had to close due to shark activity prior to 2015 and yet there have been three such closures over the past year, including one just this past month. That being said, the general public needs to remember that shark feed on small fish and human beings are nothing like their standard prey. Shark attacks on people are extremely rare and according to scientists from the University of Florida, the risk of dying from a shark attack is roughly 1 in 3.7 million. But there are those rare occasions when sharks do mistake humans for sea lions or similar marine mammals and in those cases, there is a threat. So with this recent surge in the Orange County shark population, the cause of which remains a mystery to scientists, of course beach safety officials must take all precautions to protect human beach-goers.
Sharks hold a special place in our hearts here at Water Gallery. We chose Wyland's starkly beautiful painting Shark Reef for one of our glass water bottles and it's one of our favorite Wyland pieces. We are strong believers that sharks get a bad rap. They tend to be quite solitary and they truly want to be left alone to enjoy their ocean habitat in peace. Although they are seen as fierce predators who hunt human beings for blood, in actuality that is not true. Sharks are majestic, graceful creatures who want nothing to do with humans. If anything, we should be working to protect sharks rather than demonize them. With Shark Week coming up the first week of July, let's celebrate sharks and although we all acknowledge that meeting up with one face-to-face in the ocean sounds pretty scary, the bottom line is that for the most part, if we leave them alone, they'll leave us alone.