Santa Monica beach sharks California
Credit: Getty Images/AWL Images RM

Scientists believe that shark populations are increasing in California’s bays.

According to LA Weekly, this year’s crop of shark sightings has been “particularly intense.” In the start of the summer, beaches across California were under shark advisories almost every day. After attacks, they shut down for several days at a time.

Although it may appear that the sharks have come from nowhere, great whites are no strangers to the bays of central and southern California. “Most people do not realize that our front yard — L.A.’s front yard — is home to one of the largest nurseries for white sharks in the world,” Chris Lowe, professor of marine biology at Cal State Long Beach, told Los Angeles Magazine.

After they’re born, sharks are left to fend for themselves. Those in the Pacific will head to California’s shallow bays, where the water is warmer, food is abundant and there is more natural protection from predators.

Typically, newborn sharks live in California bays from May through October and work their way towards the equator as the weather starts to cool. Except in recent years, the sharks have stayed through the winter and well into the following spring and summer.

Since 2014, scientists have noticed that the bays along California have not cooled as normal, so younger sharks have had no reason to leave. Come the following spring, the next crop of newborns enter the bay, alongside the one-year-olds — effectively doubling the population of sharks in the area.

There are several other theories scientist use to explain increased shark sightings, including increased wildlife protection efforts and better technology to spot sharks.

Marine biologists recommend that anybody worried about shark attacks — which are very rare — should frequent crowded beaches, as sharks are more likely to attack people who are alone.