California shark-infested waters: Where bites occurred last year

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California is the third most shark-attacked state in the United States with 307 recorded shark attacks. Most of them are for no reason. Only 24 incidents were fatal, the most recent in 2021. The first recorded shark attack in California occurred in 1851 and the last occurred on June 22, 2022.

Let's take a look at some of the places in California with the most frequent shark attacks. We'll then discuss the five shark attacks that occurred in the last year.

Are there shark-infested waters in California?

We can't say if there are shark- infested waters in California, but there are plenty of sharks living around the state. This claim is easily linked to the number of attacks recorded in the area since the 1800s – 307 to be exact. While attacks were reported and examined across the state, there were more incidents in some locations. Let's take a look at the 6 areas in California with the most shark attacks.

1. Los Angeles County

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

©Michael Rothschild/Shutterstock.com

Los Angeles County may be the county with the most shark attacks in California. The Global Shark Attack File reported 39 incidents between 1879 and 2019. Most attacks are unprovoked. Two of the attacks were fatal; two have yet to be confirmed involving sharks, 12 were provoked, four were labeled "boat disasters" and one was labeled a "shipwreck".

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

  • Broadbeach;
  • long beach;
  • Malibu;
  • Santa Catalina Island;
  • Santa Monica;
  • venice beach.

2. Humboldt County

great white shark
Humboldt County recorded 19 shark attacks in the area, three of which were labeled "boat disasters."

© iStock.com/Elizabeth Hoffman

Regarding California shark attacks, Humboldt County has recorded 19 shark attacks in the area, three of which were labeled "boat disasters." The shark species involved are the white shark and the leopard shark.

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Some of the places where attacks have occurred in Humboldt County include Moonstone Beach, Samoa Beach and Shelter Inlet.

3. Santa Cruz County

lemon shark with sunlight
There were 16 shark attacks in Santa Cruz County.

©iStock.com/Michael Geyer

There were 16 shark attacks in Santa Cruz County, including at Sand Dollar Beach and Capitola Beach. It has not been confirmed that one of the attacks involved a shark, while four were labeled "boat disasters". The only fatal attack in Santa Cruz County occurred on May 9, 2020, when a white shark bit a 26-year-old man named Ben Kelly while surfing.

4. Sonoma County

Giant bull shark spotted off coast of Zimbabwe
About 15 shark attacks have been recorded in Sonoma County.

©Stefan Pircher/Shutterstock.com

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

5. San Francisco

A great white shark jumps out of the water to grab the bait. Scientific name: Carcharodon carcharias. South Africa
There have been 10 California shark attacks in San Francisco; two were fatal.

© iStock.com/USO

There have been 10 California shark attacks in San Francisco; two were fatal. In 1984, there was an attack on the Steinhardt Aquarium. Fortunately, the injured man survived the sevengill shark attack. Most of the attacks in San Francisco happened a long time ago. The last attack was in 2005, suggesting sharks are no longer as common in the area.

6. Huntington Beach

woman escapes shark
Huntington Beach has nine recorded shark attacks.

©William Bradberry/Shutterstock.com

Huntington Beach has nine recorded shark attacks. However, three of them have not yet been confirmed to be shark-related, although the injured suffered lacerations, scrapes and stab wounds.

2021 California Shark Attacks

There have been four unprovoked shark attacks in California in 2021, and all those involved have survived. Let's learn more about each one.

June 26, 2021 Shark Attack

On Saturday, June 26, Nemanja Spasojevic, a 38-year-old male living in San Francisco, went snorkeling at Gray Whale Cove State Beach in San Mateo County. Around 8am, he went into the water to catch some crabs and went for a swim.

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Before returning, he stopped to pick up a crab, but decided to leave it in the water. He was just about to surface when he felt something bite his leg. Then, he saw a shark. He started fighting back and luckily the shark swam away.

Nemanja Spasojevic suffered ten lacerations to the back of his right thigh. The shark involved was a juvenile white shark 6-8 feet long.

June 30, 2021 Shark Attack

On June 30, 2021, Eddie Cahill, a 15-year-old boy, was attacked by a shark at Parsons Landing in Emerald Bay, Catalina Island. He was one of 11 members of the Boy Scouts who were in the canoe at the time of the attack. Eddie sat in front of the canoe. Suddenly, he felt as if he had hit a rock. He dipped his hand into the water to check. In the end, it was not the stone but the shark that bit Eddie's hand and left.

July 21, 2021 Shark event

The Global Shark Attack File mentions a third California shark attack in 2021. However, this can be considered a minor incident as no one was injured.

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

Then she felt it hit her plank and her leg. Jennifer did not see the shark, but confirmed that sharks were involved, as juvenile sharks are often found in the area, even in shallow water. Jennifer said: "In 20 years of surfing, I've never had physical contact with a sea lion. […] I'm not sure there's anything else that's that big and long that can pack such a punch.”

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October 3, 2021 Shark attack

Eric Steinley, a 38-year-old man, was attacked on Salmon Creek Beach, north of Bodega Bay in Sonoma County. He goes to the beach to surf. He was on his stomach when a shark swam up from below and bit him. When he realized it was a shark, he successfully fought back to survive.

The back of his left thigh was injured. Based on DNA collected from Eric's board, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife identified a roughly 10-foot great white shark as being involved.

California Shark Attack Statistics

state california
Number of attacks 307
provocative 36
for no reason 204
air/sea disaster 4
boat/vessel disaster 41
Unknown circumstances/shark involvement not confirmed/unclear if death was due to shark attack twenty two
deadly twenty four
first attack 1851
last attack June 22, 2022

year of california shark attack

unknown 3
1800s 3
1900s 167
2000-2010 56
2011-2020 72
2021 4
2022 2

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featured image

The great white shark, Carcharodon carcharias, bares its teeth.
The great white shark, Carcharodon carcharias, bares its teeth.

© Martin Prochazkacz/Shutterstock.com


about the author

jeremiah wright


I have seven years of professional experience in the content field, focusing on nature and wildlife. Besides writing, I also enjoy surfing the Internet and listening to music.

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