California Shark Infested Waters: Where Bites Happened Last Year

Written by Jeremiah Wright
Updated: October 24, 2022
© Martin Prochazkacz/Shutterstock.com
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California is the third state in the United States with the most shark attacks, having 307 shark attack records. Most of them were unprovoked. Only 24 incidents were fatal, with the most recent one occurring in 2021. The first California shark attack on record dates from 1851, and the last happened on June 22, 2022. 

Let’s check out some of the places where California shark attacks occur most frequently. Then, we’ll discuss the five shark attacks that happened last year. 

Does California have shark-infested waters?

We can’t say whether California has shark-infested waters, but many sharks live around the state. This statement can be easily linked with the number of attacks in the area recorded since the 1800s – 307, to be precise. While attacks have been reported and checked all around the state, there are some places where more incidents occurred. Let’s check out 6 areas where California shark attacks are most numerous. 

1. Los Angeles County

Tiger Shark
The Global Shark Attack File reports 39 incidents of shark attacks in Los Angeles County between 1879 and 2019.

©Michael Rothschild/Shutterstock.com

Los Angeles County might be the California county with the most shark attacks. The Global Shark Attack File reports 39 incidents between 1879 and 2019. Most of the attacks were unprovoked. Two attacks were fatal; two haven’t yet been confirmed to have involved a shark, 12 were provoked, four were labeled as “watercraft disaster,” and one as “sea disaster.” 

Here are some places in Los Angeles County where these attacks happened:

  • Broad Beach;
  • Long Beach;
  • Malibu;
  • Santa Catalina Island;
  • Santa Monica;
  • Venice Beach.

2. Humboldt County

Great white shark
Humboldt County registered 19 shark attacks in the area, with three labeled as “watercraft disasters.”

©iStock.com/ELizabethHoffmann

Regarding California shark attacks, Humboldt County registered 19 shark attacks in the area, with three labeled as “watercraft disasters.” The shark species involved were white sharks and a leopard shark.

Some places in Humboldt County where attacks occurred include Moonstone Beach, Samoa Beach, and Shelter Cove. 

3. Santa Cruz County

Lemon shark with sunrays
There were 16 shark attacks in Santa Cruz County.

©iStock.com/Michael Geyer

There were 16 shark attacks in Santa Cruz County – at Sand Dollar Beach and Capitola Beach, among other places. Shark involvement hasn’t yet been confirmed for one of the attacks, while four are labeled “watercraft disasters.” The only fatal attack in Santa Cruz County occurred on May 9, 2020, when a white shark bit a 26-year-old man called Ben Kelly while surfing.

4. Sonoma County

giant bull shark found off the coast of zimbabwe
Sonoma County has approximately 15 shark attack records.

©Stefan Pircher/Shutterstock.com

Sonoma County has recorded 15 of the existing California shark attacks at Bodega Rock, North Salmon Creek Beach, and Salmon Beach, among other places. Most of the attacks involved white sharks, but, fortunately, none were fatal.

5. San Francisco

Great White Shark jumps out of the water and grabs bait. Scientific name: Carcharodon carcharias. South Africa
Ten California shark attacks happened in San Francisco; two were fatal.

©iStock.com/USO

Ten California shark attacks happened in San Francisco; two were fatal. One attack occurred at Steinhart Aquarium in 1984. Luckily, the wounded man survived the sevengill shark attack. Most of the attacks in San Francisco happened a long time ago. The last attack took place in 2005, which indicates that sharks are not so common in the area anymore. 

6. Huntington Beach

Woman escape shark
Huntington Beach has nine shark attack records.

©Willyam Bradberry/Shutterstock.com

Huntington Beach has nine shark attack records. However, three of them haven’t yet been confirmed to have involved a shark, although the wounded people suffered lacerations, abrasions, and puncture wounds.

California shark attacks 2021

Four shark attacks happened in California in 2021. All of them were unprovoked, and everyone involved survived. Let’s find out more about each.

June 26, 2021, Shark Attack

On Saturday, June 26, Nemanja Spasojevic, a 38-year-old male living in San Francisco, went to Gray Whale Cove State Beach, San Mateo County, for snorkeling. He entered the water at around 8 a.m. After collecting some crabs, he went swimming. 

Before returning, he stopped to collect a crab but, in the end, decided to leave it in the water. When he was about to surface, he felt something biting his leg. Then, he saw the shark. He started fighting back, and luckily, the shark swam away. 

Nemanja Spasojevic suffered ten lacerations to his posterior right thigh. The shark involved was a 6-8-foot long juvenile white shark.

June 30, 2021, Shark Attack

Eddie Cahill, a 15-year-old boy, was attacked on June 30, 2021, by a shark at Parsons Landing, Emerald Bay, Catalina Island. He was one of the 11 members of the Boy Scout Troop who were in the canoe when the attack happened. Eddie was sitting in front of the canoe. Suddenly, he felt like he had hit a rock. He reached into the water to check. It turned out it wasn’t a rock but a shark that eventually bit Eddie’s hand and left. 

July 21, 2021, Shark Incident

The Global Shark Attack File mentions a third California shark attack that occurred in 2021. However, this can be considered just a minor incident, as no one involved suffered any injuries. 

It happened on July 21, 2021, at Capitola Beach, Santa Cruz County. The involved person was Jennifer Rand Romney. She was on an eight-foot board alongside other surfers when something hit her friend’s board underwater. 

Then, she felt it hit her board and her leg. Jennifer didn’t see the shark, but shark involvement was confirmed, as juvenile sharks were often spotted in the area, even in shallow waters. Jennifer stated, “In 20 years of surfing, I have not had a sea lion make physical contact. […] I wasn’t sure what else could be that large and long and make such a hard hit.”

October 3, 2021, Shark Attack

Eric Steinley, a 38-year-old man, was attacked at Salmon Creek Beach just north of Bodega Bay in Sonoma County. He went to the beach to surf. He was lying on his stomach on the board when a shark swam up from below, biting him. When he realized it was a shark, he successfully tried to fight back to survive. 

He suffered injuries to his posterior left thigh. Based on the DNA collected from Eric’s board, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife confirmed the involvement of an approximately 10-feet long great white shark. 

California shark attack statistics

StateCalifornia
Number of attacks307
Provoked36
Unprovoked204
Air/Sea disaster4
Boat/Watercraft disaster41
Unknown circumstances/shark involvement not confirmed/unclear whether death is caused by a shark attack22
Fatal24
First attack1851
Last attackJune 22, 2022

California shark attacks by years

Unknown3
The 1800s3
The 1900s167
2000-201056
2011-202072
20214
20222


The Featured Image

Great white shark, Carcharodon carcharias, showing its teeth.
Great white shark, Carcharodon carcharias, showing its teeth.
© Martin Prochazkacz/Shutterstock.com

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About the Author

I hold seven years of professional experience in the content world, focusing on nature, and wildlife. Asides from writing, I enjoy surfing the internet and listening to music.

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