See a Great White Shark Breach by Surfers in San Diego, and No One Flinches

Written by Katie Melynn Wood
Updated: October 18, 2023
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Some beachgoers may be used to seeing wildlife and sea creatures. But when a shark breaches the water, it’s something to notice!

See How Close This Breaching Great White Shark Is In This Incredible Clip Below!

Surfers seem unfazed by shark breach

These surfers at Lower Trestles in San Onofre State Beach, San Diego, play it cool even when this Great White Shark comes over. Lowers is a popular surfing location. Sharks are not unusual in the water off the San Diego coast. Chances are that at least a few of these surfers had seen a Great White before.

Why Do Sharks Breach?

Great White Sharks are known for their breaching behavior. They do this to catch prey, such as seals, who can move fast. Sharks must move even faster to get their dinner. When breaching, they swim directly toward the surface at a high rate of speed. The Smithsonian says that Great Whites can swim up to 40 miles per hour when breaching. All of that requires a lot of energy, however, so it is only something that they do when they need to hunt.

Great Whites can get up to 10 feet out of the water when breaching. These amazing feats are sometimes caught on camera when researchers set up decoys to attract and study Great White Sharks. In this video, the footage was from a shore-based surf camera.

Great White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias) breaching in an attack. Hunting of a Great White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias). South Africa

When breaching, they swim directly toward the surface, and their prey, at a high rate of speed.

©Sergey Uryadnikov/

Even with the distance, you can clearly see the shark breaching in the water. Its body is white and sticks out from the surrounding blue of the ocean. It is further out than the surfers. Everyone stays calm and the shark disappears back below the water. Maybe they didn’t notice the shark or maybe they are counting on the shark heading back out to deeper water.

great white shark

The Smithsonian says that Great Whites can swim up to 40 miles per hour when breaching.

©Ramon Carretero/

Are Sharks Common in California?

great white shark under boat

Juvenile great white sharks are in the water with people 97% of the time in San Diego and Santa Barbara Counties.

©Willyam Bradberry/

Great White Sharks are a common enough sight in California. While it doesn’t hold the record for the state with the most shark attacks (that distinction belongs to Florida), because of the popularity of water sports and beaches, there are still plenty of interactions between people and sharks in California. According to Cal State Long Beach’s Shark Lab, juvenile great whites are often found within 50 yards of where the waves break. Additionally, these young sharks were swimming near people 97% of the time at San Diego and Santa Barbara County beaches.

Sharks do not generally attack people for sport. Contrary to how they are portrayed in movies like Jaws, Great Whites are not unusually aggressive and do not hunt people if they do not feel threatened. They can mistake people, especially those at the surface, such as surfers, for potential food.

What would you do if you saw a Great White Shark breach nearby? Would you play it cool like these surfers or hightail it out of the water?

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Sergey Uryadnikov/

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About the Author

Katie is a freelance writer and teaching artist specializing in home, lifestyle, and family topics. Her work has appeared in At Ease Magazine, PEOPLE, and The Spruce, among others. When she is not writing, Katie teaches creative writing with the Apex Arts Magnet Program in Anne Arundel County, Maryland. You can follow Katie @katiemelynnwriter.

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