SoCal sea a-swim with scum and sharks

It’s been an eventful week here in the Southern California Bight – the northwest-southeast slanting part of the coastline between Point Conception (north of Los Angeles) and Ensenada, Mexico. There’s a bright green algae bloom making the waves look like they’ve been highlighted with a fluorescent marker. The color is caused by an algae bloom dominated by Tetraselmis, a harmless single-celled flagellate. Before I knew about the bloom, I thought someone was dumping flourescein dye in the ocean as part of an experiment – it is unbelievably vibrant!

Photo credit: Kristina Rebelo, San Diego Union-Tribune

We’ve still got a few giant black nettle jellies floating around, but the big news this week has featured something much toothier. White sharks are relatively common off the southern California coast, but since chances of getting munched are vanishingly rare, I don’t worry about them while swimming & diving. Still, I must say that seeing a huge predator emerge out of the familiar Pacific murk on this video makes my stomach clench. This was filmed off San Onofre, about 50 miles north of San Diego.

Me my Shark and I from Chuck Patterson on Vimeo.

3 Replies to “SoCal sea a-swim with scum and sharks”

  1. I would love to think that I would find myself calm and collected upon witnessing such a creature. I’d also like to imagine, based on everything I know about myself, that I would continue excitedly shoving that camera underwater hoping for some killer shots.

    More likely, however, I would find myself having a major panic attack at my inability to quickly figure out which species it is and whether I should be freaking out.

  2. I’ve seen sharks underwater, but this was in the tropics with 60’+ visibility. There’s something really scary about seeing it emerge from the gloom. No matter how wonderfully intellectual & informed we are. :)

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