Dr. Chris Lowe, director of the Cal State Long Beach Shark Lab, said Friday that even with a limited number of staffers going out in the waters due to the coronavirus pandemic, his team still tagged 38 sharks in 2020, which was triple the number they tagged last year.
“This was a big year,” Lowe told Los Angeles's KCAL-TV. “So, even with COVID, we tagged more sharks this year than we have any other year.”
The increase has puzzled researchers, as shark clusters were larger and remained in the coastal waters longer than in past years, Lowe said.
“This year there were just more sharks around,” he said. “And the question is why.”
He tweeted about the findings, which included a video of great white pups and juveniles swimming all along Southern California beaches from San Diego to Santa Barbara, an area located about 100 miles northwest of Los Angeles.
Lowe is currently studying the habits of great white sharks to protect them, along with humans, according to the station.
Even with a limited amount of lab time, he was surprised his team still found so many sharks still swimming in the region.
Lowe has previously spoken about how fluctuations in water temperatures and weather patterns impact ocean life, according to the lab. He added that sharks typically migrate when the water temperature drops.
“Normally in our fall when our water temperature gets to the low sixties, that seems to be a cue that drives them to migrate south to Baja,” Lowe said. “And so far, here we are mid-October, and the sharks are still sticking around."
"Maybe 2020 is going to be a year-round shark season," he continued.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.