Shark Watch California

Since 2016, Shark Stewards has been collecting data on sharks in the wild, sharks observed dead and in recreational shark catch in California. Starting in the San Francisco Bay, Shark Watch has been recording observations with the California Academy of Sciences using the iNaturalist platform. Now, with Ocean Sanctuaries, we are asking underwater and topside photographers to record their observations into our National Science Foundation Sci -Starter California Shark Project platform. See a Live Shark? Record it!

Globally we are collecting observations of species and spreading education on species, range and human impacts. This data is useful in looking at species ranges, estimating seasonal trends, population size and human impacts. In California we are monitoring recreational and trophy shark fishing, catch, release and kill to evaluate non commercial impacts on local shark populations.

Shark Watch is Educational

This program is community science giving youth and everyone access to science, data collection and observation of elasmobranchs (sharks, skates and rays) in the wild.

White shark caught of Manhattan Beach Pier


Through monitoring of fish reports and mining social media, we have collected observations of hundreds of incidents of capturing large sharks for sport, including protected white sharks. These sharks are captured and killed or caught and released in public waters near high densities of recreational water users. Many of the sharks are killed or harmed, even when released. Data may lead to better practices by fishermen, managing shark populations and altering human behavior.

Stephen Robles
Shark bite survivors Keane Webre-Hayes, Steven C. Robles, Marie Korcsmaros and Leeanne Ericson, from left, take a group photo at Corona del Mar State Beach in Newport Beach on Friday, May 3, 2019. This was the first time Korcsmaros swam the buoy line after being bit by a shark there in May, 2016. All four are shark bite survivors. Robles was bit by a shark in July, 2014 off Manhattan Beach. Webre-Hayes was bit by a shark in September, 2018 off Encinitas and Ericson was bit off San Onofre State Beach in April, 2017. (Photo by Paul Bersebach, Orange County Register/SCNG)

Additionally, many kayak- shark interactions are catalyzed or exacerbated by baiting or attracting sharks including an encounter with an endangered hammerhead shark off Santa Barbara. These interactions invariably lead to news and social media messaging with negative connotations (“shark attack”). As the white shark population rises off Southern California, reducing risk will also reduce the risk of a vendetta effect, as seen in the shark culls that have taken place in Australia and South Africa during periods of high encounters.

Our Southern California chair Maria Korcmaros, herself a shark attack survivor, is working with aquariums, non profits and Fish and Wildlife to collect more observations and engage the public in Southern California. 

shark watch

Photo: World Record sevengill catch killed in San Francisco Bay, 2017

See a Live Shark? Record it!

Not limited to white sharks, this program includes tracking the catch and kill of sportfishing record sevengill sharks in the San Francisco Bay and from public piers in Southern California. These sharks are generally mature females, the most important segment of the population to protect. The Guinness Book of World records and the IGFA world record for this species (Notorhynchus cepedianus) have been recorded here and attract fishermen for around the globe. In the Bay, commercial charters leading boatloads of anglers killing as many as 30 sharks per trip in an important nursery area. The largest sharks are pregnant females, so this targeted hunt is having untold consequences on the long-term health of the sevengill population.


Compile data for a better management and scientific understanding of sharks and increase public safety on public beaches and piers in state waters.