Could the Manhattan Beach shark bite have been predicted?

The recent shark bite incident at Manhattan Beach Pier, made worldwide headlines. Just google “shark attack Manhattan Beach” and you get literally pages and pages of links with headlines screaming “Shark Attack”. used the picture below to catch their readers attention and wrote that A 7-foot-long great white shark attacked a swimmer off the California’s Manhattan Beach on Saturday, causing panic amongst crowds of people enjoying one of Southern California’s most popular beaches on the 4th of July holiday weekend.


Now a headline and picture like that would scare any sane reader and make them think twice about swimming in the ocean.

Of course we know, that the shark didn’t really attack the swimmer, but was trying to get away from a fisherman, who had him hooked on a line, instead. Was this just a freak accident, or could this have been predicted?

Back in November of 2013, Pete Thomas wrote a piece for Grind TV about swimmers and fishermen harassing juvenile great white sharks at the exact location where this swimmer got bit. The article says:

“White sharks are a candidate species under the California Endangered Species Act and therefore fully protected,” Traci Larinto and Michelle Horeczko, part of the state Department of Fish and Wildlife’s White Shark Status Review Team, explained in a statement. “They cannot be taken or pursued. The public should take steps to avoid white sharks while fishing or being out on the water.”

As to the legality of trying to catch great white sharks, it has this statement:

“Right now, every surfer/thrill seeker with a GoPro is going out to Manhattan Beach and trying to film them, ride them, and catch them on hook and line,” said Christopher Lowe, a Cal State Long Beach professor and white shark expert. “Most people do not understand CESA regulations and that even incidental catch [or] being caught swimming after a shark with a GoPro camera can be considered take or harassment and is a citable, even jailable offense.”


So it comes as hardly a surprise that there are juvenile great white sharks in the area and unfortunately, it seems that, despite the law protecting them, some fishermen are still purposely trying to catch them. 

“One rumor is that a couple of fishermen have caught and killed some sharks off El Porto and supposedly found squid in the stomachs. I just don’t think the public understands the ramifications of the law here.”

We have known for quite a while, that juvenile great white sharks are in the vicinity of Manhattan Beach and that fishermen, along with thrill seekers are harassing and trying to catch them. So it comes hardly as a surprise that something finally happened. Predictably though, the headlines don’t say that illegal shark fishing was to blame, but instead scream “Shark attack!”

It looks like the authorities have also realized that the fishing was the cause of this shark bite and reacted by banning all fishing from the pier, for the next 60 days.

This situation reminds me of all the idiots going outside the cages at Isla Guadalupe, where sooner or later, something might happen as well.
If you want to legally and safely swim with tiger sharks, dive with great white shark, or come face to face bull sharks, give us a call at 619.987.4275 or send us an email at

We specialize in “Safe and Sane” shark diving, always using cages when diving with great white sharks and only diving with sharks, where it is safe and legal to do so. 

When done responsibly, swimming with these awesome creatures is truly an experience of a lifetime. After 14 years of diving with all kinds of sharks, I’ve come to love and respect them for what they are, highly efficient predators, that are neither mindless killers, nor harmless pets.

Martin Graf
Shark Diver
About Shark Diver. As a global leader in commercial shark diving and conservation initiatives Shark Diver has spent the past decade engaged for sharks around the world. Our blog highlights all aspects of both of these dynamic and shifting worlds. You can reach us directly at

Shark Diver is going to Fiji

Shark Diver is going to Fiji in May! Our first expedition is from May 2 -11 and the second leaves on May 9 and returns on May 19For more information call 855.987.4275 or 619.887.4275. Email  Lets go shark diving!Cheers,Martin …

Are sharks apex predators? Does it matter?

We commonly refer to sharks as apex predators. Are they really? If they are not, does it matter? A few Australian researchers have come up with some answers to both questions.

First, are sharks apex predators? According to their findings, the answer is yes …. and no.

Example of an apex predator!

Here is what they found. “While size can be important in terrestrial ecosys- tems, size is crucial in marine ecosystems — which tend to be dominated by indeterminate organisms that grow continuously throughout their lives (Trebilco et al. 2013). Individual function changes due to onto- genetic diet shifts as organisms grow in size (Karpouzi

& Stergiou 2003, Pinnegar et al. 2003). The conse- quence is that size-structuring within communities, rather than species identity, is an important factor in determining the strength of competitive and predatory interactions (Dickie et al. 1987, Kerr & Dickie 2001). For example, studies have shown high overlap in diet between similar-sized sharks regardless of maturity state and species identity (e.g. Bethea et al. 2004). Therefore, designation of marine species into apex and mesopredator categories should consider the life stage and size of individuals.”
I’m not a scientist, but what I’m getting is, size matters!
But so, why should we care? We are not scientists, (well, you may be, but I’m not) so what does a classification matter? 
Here is what they have to say to that. 

Example of a meso predator!

“Our size-based view of the classification of predatory roles raises important questions about what objectives to manage, and how these objectives can be best achieved. Protection of reef communities through marine protected areas (MPAs) or fisheries regulation (or indeed, naturally on those few locations far from human population centres) would ensure the mesopredator sharks on these reefs are sheltered from fishing pressure. However, the same may not be true for apex predators because their broad movement patterns and large home ranges (Meyer et al. 2009) would expose them to a greater diversity of fishing fleets and gears, and thus a greater overall mortality than the smaller-ranging, reef-dwelling mesopredators. Hence, the apex pred- ators of coral reefs may be silently eliminated by offshore pelagic longline fisheries, unbeknownst to those managing reef diversity and function (Cox et al. 2002). Therefore, reef-based MPAs are not adequate to protect these species”

So basically they are saying that we need to do more than establish MPAs to adequately protect apex predators.

Here is a graphic that may be a bit more clear on the subject.

This graphic shows, that without MPAs prey species would greatly increase, while both mesopredators and apex predators decrease. With reef scale (small, local) MPAs, the mesopredators thrive, keeping the prey species in balance, but the apex predators still decline.


In practical terms, this means that we have to protect apex predators on a much larger scale than the less migratory mesopredators. In order to do that, we need to know both where they are and when they are there. With that knowledge we can push for local and/or seasonal protection for these migratory apex predators. In order to get that data, we need data that shows the migratory behavior of the various species of apex predators. 
You can read the entire paper here.

Martin Graf

About Shark Diver. As a global leader in commercial shark diving and conservation initiatives Shark Diver has spent the past decade engaged for sharks around the world. Our blog highlights all aspects of both of these dynamic and shifting worlds. You can reach us directly at

Best Shark Dive in the world?

Valerie Taylor called Beqa Adventure Divers’  “Shark Dive”,  “The best shark dive in the world!”. That is high praise from one of the most respected shark divers in the industry and given the fact that we at Shark Diver pride ourselves in off…