How to Keep Sharks and Whales from Living in the Same Place

Op-Ed: How juvenile white sharks in search of warmer waters disrupt life off the California coast — and our seafood supply

Juvenile sharks, their teeth stained red with their blood, are on the prowl at the bottom of Malibu Creek in Santa Monica on April 23, 2013. The beach is a place where families swim, sunbathe and enjoy an occasional picnic with friends. But for this week’s episode of the Pacifica program on KPFK, a young woman who has no plans to swim in the water was swimming instead, alone in the creek with a dead juvenile gray whale right in front of her.

Image: Pacifica

As any good marine scientist knows, sharks and whales don’t normally live side by side, especially in the shallows of a coastal creek.

That’s because of the fact that sharks have a shorter life than whales — sharks live only about 200-300 years in water, while all other species of marine mammals live 100-140 years in the water, says Michael McCarthy, founder and president of the nonprofit Shark Love Foundation.

“At the end of their life, in most cases, they die because they were swimming in places they shouldn’t be, and they’re out there swimming in the wrong location,” said McCarthy.

So, when sharks live in the same place as whales, there are very few encounters between the two — even fewer that cause the sharks to move or the whales to move.

What you can do to keep sharks and whales from living in the same place:

Be aware that whales and sharks do not always swim together. You can help protect them by not swimming where the two species are.

If a shark is seen in a location where whales rest, do not run, do not swim toward them, be respectful.

Do not feed or chase the animal until they have gone away. If the shark happens to get into the water, do not approach them with a fishing pole.

Conservationists say that the best way to deal with the problem and move the sharks away from the whales is to educate the public about the fact that the two species are not always swimming together. This will help reduce the

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