How common are California shark attacks?

Dec 29, 2014

Credit Flickr member Elias Levy

A man recovering from a shark attack on the Central Coast this weekend is out of the hospital Monday. Although this is the second shark attack this year in San Luis Obispo County, experts say they're still uncommon. 

Even more uncommon are fatal attacks says Traci Larinto a Senior Environmental Specialist for the state's Department of Fish and Wildlife. 

She says the number of sharks swimming in local waters seems to be slightly increasing compared to previous years possibly the result of new gill net regulations. Still this isn't changing California's low number of attacks, compared to numbers in other parts of the world.

Map last updated: February 18, 2014
Credit International Shark Attack File Florida Museum of Natural History, University of Florida

"The chance of getting bit is quite low. It obviously increases if you're surfing in an area where there are prey items for the sharks, but still they're really targeting those marine mammals and not surfers,"  said Larinto.

White sharks are beginning to migrate to other areas this time of year, with the exception of juveniles which remain almost year-round.

It's believed Sunday's attack at Montaña de Oro could have been a juvenile.

According to a shark attack map produced at the University of Florida, San Luis Obispo County has an average number of attacks for California. San Diego County has the highest number of recorded attacks since 1926, and Orange County has the fewest of any California county adjacent to the ocean.