San Diego Shark Sightings

San Diego Shark Sightings Featured Image

Seeing how I have been homebound during this unprecedented worldwide quarantine (I am sure you can relate), I had the time to do a bit of shark research. I have always wondered how often sharks are seen off the coast of San Diego. Through the years, I have heard rumors, but seeing that I had a bunch of time on my hands, I set out to find all that I could about San Diego shark sightings and encounters that happen off the coastline.

Sharks have always fascinated me ever since I was a little girl. In fact, my very first scientific report was on the hammerhead shark in fourth grade.

hammerhead shark san diego shark sightings

There is something so powerful and alluring about sharks that tug deep at your primal soul. The coldness of the eyes and the methodic tail movements that propel them through the water always captures my attention and imagination every time. I mean, just the fact that sharks have been around for over 400 million years, blows me away!

But, I digress.

My mind was running wild while reading over all of the fascinating shark encounter reports. It was a welcome reprieve to get away from all of the chaos that is happening in the world right now.

So, I thought, why not document the various shark sightings/ encounters for San Diego County, beach by beach?  It would make for a great addition to my website, as well as for my curiosity.  

Sad News From Santa Cruz, California

While I was writing this article, something truly tragic happened off the coast of Northern California at 1:30  pm on May 11.

On the northern end of Monterey Bay, Ben Kelly,  26-years-old, was attacked and killed by a shark while surfing. The tragedy took place 100 yards  (91 meters) from shore off Sand Dollar Beach at Manresa State Beach, Santa Cruz.

Kelly was surfing with a friend, who stated that they were able to swim back to shore, but they could not stop the bleeding.

It was also noted that this area is notorious for juvenile great white shark sightings and is referred to as “Shark Park.”

But a juvenile did not attack Ben, as experts reported the shark to have been larger than 10 feet.

What Type of Sharks Are Found off the Coast of San Diego County?

Surfing Terramar San Diego Shark Sightings
Terramar Beach

Before I get into all of the critical shark sighting data that I have uncovered, I thought I would first off make a list of possible sharks that are seen in and around San Diego waters.

To go one step further, I have separated them into two groups, Coastal, and Pelagic.  Down below are the definitions given to simplify the difference between the two.

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Grunion Run 2020 Schedule

It has taken me a bit of time to tell you that the grunion, Southern California’s infamous fish, mating season is upon us! Why? Well, at the time of this writing, all the San Diego County beaches were closed; thus, all citizens were barred from experiencing the coastline, so I hesitated. The Department of Fish and Wildlife even took the chart off its website. Their reasoning was not to encourage people to come to the beach and witness this phenomenon. Down below, I present to you the San Diego grunion run scheduled for May- September, with the anticipation that the beaches will be open on May 1st (fingers crossed).

First, I will give you a little background information on why this is such a spectacular event, followed by my recommendation on the best beaches in San Diego would be ideal for witnessing the grunion mating dance.

What is a Grunion Run, and Why is it a Big Deal?

Single Grunion spawning beach sand
Wikimedia Commons

The grunion (Leuresthes tenuis) is a type of smelt which is small, silvery and is about the size of a sardine. These fish are only found off the coast of Southern California, from San Luis Obispo down to Northern Baja California.

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