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Great White Shark Sightings, Safety: Expert to Lecture in La Jolla

Ralph Collier, a shark expert with the Shark Research Committee, will discuss the numerous shark sightings in Southern California at a presentation on Thursday at The Neurosciences Institute auditorium.

Are you safe to swim or surf near seals or dolphins? Why do great whites bite surfboards and kayaks? And why are there so many shark sightings in Southern California?

Shark expert Ralph Collier, of the Shark Research Comittee, will answer these questions and share data and tales from his years of experience at a lecture at The Neurosciences Institute auditorium at 10640 John Jay Hopkins Dr, San Diego, CA 92121 on Thursday at 7 p.m. Doors open at 6 p.m.

Collier will give a multimedia presentation and provide a look into the world of a white shark.

Collier has been interviewed more than 20 time for Discover Channel's Shark Week, for dozens of independent documentaries, including for the History Channel and Animal Planet, and numerous news programs, including ABC's Good Morning America. He is considered a leading authority on Pacific Coast white shark behavior and ecology.

He's studied white shark predatory behavior and biology as they relate to interactions with humans for more than 40 years.

Tickets are $10 per person at the door. All proceeds will go to support the Shark Research Committee's conservation education and research programs.

“We are attempting to raise enough in donations to commence our new carnobacterium project and a white shark PAT program. The carnobacterium project concerns the numbers of stranded juvenile sharks along our coast and the infection of their central nervous system by this unique bacteria and whether it is transmittable to other marine organisms. The PAT tags will allow us to compile additional information of juvenile and adult white shark movements along the Pacific Coast of North America,” Collier said in an email to Patch. 

Also read: Top of the Food Chain: Great White Sharks and People

Earlier this year, Collier met with San Diego lifeguards, representatives from federal agencies, advocacy groups like Surfline and academics to enroll them in an effort to help increase reports of shark sightings and incidents.

It can be difficult tracking the movement of an animal that moves constantly, but with the public's help, research may be able to make it safer to coexist with great white sharks who accounted for near 90 percent of attacks along North America's Pacific coast in the 20th century.

Pictures are most effective. To report an incident, visit the Shark Research Committee website.

If signs of sharks' presence are found over the course of a few days, the committee can deploy a team to try and find and tag the shark.

Once a shark's movements are tracked with GPS tags, Collier said, collected data may be help accurately define migratory patterns and better predict when sharks will be in an area.

In August 2011, a group of five surfers reportedly spotted the 12-inch dorsal fin of a shark south of Casa Reef in La Jolla. The sighting was the third in the area in a week. A week earlier, a lifeguard spotted the 18-inch dorsal fin of a shark in the surfline near Belmont Park in Mission Beach and an experienced surfer reported a shark sighting in Mission Beach.

In 2008, David Martin of Solana Beach was killed by a great white shark. A day later Collier said he received three reports of dead seals in the area. Had he received reports of dead seals earlier, that information could have been passed on to local lifeguards or warn the public to be on alert.

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