coastal species of most temperate waters, has often been over-looked as an important apexmarine predator
.Currently, the California population of sevengill sharks appears to be concentrated in theHumboldt and San Francisco Bays
. These two regions provide nursery areas and safehavens for juveniles. The future of the sevengill shark in this region is highly dependentupon the conservation of these habitats. Although this shark has a wide range, it is subject to intense fishing pressure as a result of being restricted to inshore waters. Currently the World Conservation Union (IUCN) lists the
sevengill shark as “Data Deficient”: data is lacking in most regions, making it difficult todetermine the overall status of this species. However, it is currently assessed as “NearThreatened” in the eastern Pacific Ocean
This Study: Why Now?
In October of 2009, I began hearing reports of encounters between local San Diego diversand sevengill sharks. Having been diving locally since 2000, I thought this unusual, sincethis was the first I had heard of these encounters in nearly a decade. Between 2000 and2006, almost no reports were documented. But in 2008, that all changed and they beganappearing on the dive lists, one here, two there, until it was obvious that something washappening. Around this time, I had my own memorable encounter with a sevengill. I was diving off of Point La Jolla when a large seven-footer (2m) glided majestically between me and my dive buddy, who was no more than two meters away. To say we were startled would be anunderstatement. The reasons for this sudden appearance of sevengill sharks are still unclear.In over nine previous years of diving in the San Diego area, I had never seen one before.The most common theories to explain these unexpected visitations have been prey migration, changes in deep ocean currents, altered mating/pupping habits, global warming,
and El Nino conditions. But not enough evidence exists for a “neat theory” to develop. So, as
much would ever come of it. Although I put out the word for submissions on local diving boards, I was unprepared forthe spike in responses that I received. In the first year alone, over 20 separate sevengillencounters were logged by local divers and 17 videos were submitted, to say nothing of thedatabase of high quality photographs that evolved over the months. In the period since then,