Shark hysteria is high in Southern California of late. Along with shark bites, maybe shark bites, and shark sightings, last week saw two separate instances of sharks (species unknown) breaching just outside the lineup at Lowers. Locals are hardly deterred – the place remains just as packed as usual. But on further inspection, the breaches at least are more benign than they appear.
The videos above and below were captured via Surfline’s live cams, and depict juvenile sharks torpedoing themselves into the air as high as possible before splashing back down to the surface. According to local sources, it’s not uncommon to see juveniles at Lowers practicing their airs in this way. “They’re more or less throw away airs, you know?” said a 44-year-old surfer and father who preferred to remain anonymous. “Like no attempt to stay centered, they just want to go as fast and as high as possible. That’s how they learn, though. And they’ll get better once they’re older and have more meat on their bones.”
Another frequenter of the famed cobblestone point was emphatic that it’s no coincidence the juveniles show up when the waves are good. “With the solid run of swell we had all last week, I’m not surprised in the slightest,” he said. “Do I feel endangered? Maybe a little. I mean what if they land on me or don’t watch where they’re going? Bottom line, if they show respect they’ll get respect.”
Neither of the breaches that occurred last week resulted in conflict with surfers in the lineup. And somewhat surprisingly, few surfers I spoke too seemed concerned about juveniles among them. I asked if there was fear of being bitten, or if they knew anyone who’d been bitten by a juvenile. “Yeah, I was bitten once,” said Miles Keller, 32. “But I punched him in the nose and he went crying to his mommy and daddy.”
When asked if he thought the breaches would continue, Keller was ambivalent.
“What, you mean the juveniles trying airs? For sure. Every juvenile’s trying to throw tail-high reverses like Kolohe, the Gudangs, or any of the guys on tour. It’s just my opinion, but I think their parents should force ’em to stick to the fundamentals before hucking themselves and shit.”