Shark & Ocean Education

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Newport Beach lifeguards are highly trained professionals who monitor the more than six miles of ocean beaches daily for a variety of issues to ensure the public’s safety. 

Juvenile Shark

Juvenile shark found off Newport Beach
Note: Lifeguard boats are 30-feet long.

Recently, there has been an increased occurrence of shark sightings in the ocean waters off Newport Beach, including the Corona del Mar area. We have developed this site to provide the public with information about ocean safety. The City has taken measures to increase staff’s knowledge about these increased sightings and to provide an educational platform for the public. 

Several measures have been implemented in partnership with other lifeguard agencies and professionals in the field of marine wildlife. Below are a few of the measures that the City is currently following.

Shark Policy

Regional lifeguard agencies have developed a shark policy (Policy) with the assistance of Dr. Chris Lowe from the California State University, Long Beach (CSULB) Shark Lab. The Shark Lab has been monitoring shark activity since 1966 and Dr. Lowe is considered an expert in the field. He continues to be a valuable resource to the City of Newport Beach.

Lifeguard personnel across the region use the Policy as a guideline and implement similar procedures when responding to any sightings or aggressive behavior as noted below.

  1. Unconfirmed shark sightings are reports typically from a single individual without any supporting evidence or sightings by another party.
    Actions Taken:  Lifeguards continue to monitor the area and determine if other sources can confirm or deny the reported sighting. 
  2. Confirmed shark sightings are reports from an individual that is confirmed by multiple individuals, a lifeguard or other City representative. 
    Actions Taken: Lifeguards post the beach area up to one mile in each direction of the sighting with advisory signs indicating that a shark has been sighted. Lifeguards continue to monitor the area and the posted signs remain in place until the area is re-evaluated the following morning. If additional shark sightings are confirmed the next day, the advisory signs remain in place until the area is re-evaluated the following morning. This process will continue until the shark is no longer seen in the area.
  3. Non-fatal shark incidents are when a shark is reported as having aggressive behavior (bumping, circling, rushing) near swimmers or when it causes an injury to a person. 
    Actions Taken: Lifeguards clear the ocean waters and post signs one mile in each direction for up to 24 hours. Lifeguards continue to monitor the area and re-evaluate the situation to determine when to open the areas.
  4. Fatal shark incidents are when a shark has caused the death of a person.
    Actions Taken: Lifeguards clear the ocean waters and post signs one mile in each direction for up to 48 hours. Lifeguards continue to monitor the area and re-evaluate the situation to determine when to open the areas.

Monitoring

In partnership with the CSULB team, lifeguards have recently deployed three acoustic receivers at the Newport Pier, the Balboa Pier and in the swim lines off the shore of Corona del Mar. These receivers record any previously tagged marine animal, including sharks, which come within 500 yards of the receiver (depending on the animal’s transponder).

In order to collect the data, lifeguards remove the receivers from the water to download the data. Once the information is downloaded, the receivers are replaced in the water. The receivers are collected weekly during summer months and more frequently if a known event occurs in our ocean waters. During non-peak months, the receivers will be regularly collected bi-monthly or monthly.

The collected data is transmitted to the CSULB Shark Lab for review and is then uploaded into its larger database. When we have an indication of a marine animal's presence in our ocean waters, the information will be logged on our marine animal monitoring Web page.

Resources

Ocean Safety Tips

  • Learn to swim. 
  • Know your swimming abilities and don’t go out deeper than your abilities allow.
  • Swim near a lifeguard and check in with a lifeguard before enter the water.
  • Never swim alone. 
  • Always be alert of your surroundings.
  • Do not fight the current. 
  • Never swim while intoxicated. 
  • Leash your surfboard or bodyboard. 
  • Protect your neck from spinal injuries.
    • STOP, watch, and walk into the water.
    • DON’T float where you can’t swim. 
    • DON'T dive headfirst into any unknown water.
    • DON'T dive toward the bottom into oncoming waves.
    • DON'T stand with your back to the waves.
    • DON'T jump or dive from a cliff, pier, jetty or bridge.
    • Avoid bodysurfing, bodyboarding or surfing straight "over the falls." Ride the shoulder.
    • In a "wipeout," land as flat as possible with your hands out in front of you.
    • While bodysurfing, keep an arm out in front of you to protect your head and neck.
    • When in doubt, DON'T DIVE, play it safe! 

 

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