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7 great white sharks tagged with transmitters after sightings in O.C.

Lifeguards and marine researchers tagged 7 great white sharks near Huntington Beach

Lifeguards and marine researchers tagged seven great white sharks Friday after more than a dozen were seen swimming and feeding in the ocean off Sunset Beach in Huntington Beach this week.

Escorted by Huntington Beach marine safety officials, researchers used spears to attach transmitters on the juvenile sharks to track their movements and get more information on them.

During the excursion Friday morning, the group spotted nearly 15 5- to 7-foot juvenile sharks, Huntington Beach Marine Safety Lt. Claude Panis said.

The tagging mission was successful but difficult because the sharks appeared to be skittish as they tried to avoid contact with researchers.

This was Panis' first time out with researchers on a tagging mission.

“For me, it kind of settled my fears down,” he said. “The sharks really don’t want to interact with people.”

Meanwhile, signs have been posted along the beach warning swimmers and surfers headed out to the ocean for Memorial Day weekend about the sharks.

Earlier this week, a Huntington Beach Police Department helicopter spotted the 6- to 10-foot sharks feeding in the water about 50 feet from the shore, police said.

In the last week, sharks have been spotted swimming south of Anderson Street toward Sunset Beach, Huntington Beach Marine Safety Lt. Michael Baumgartner said. The young sharks were previously spotted near Surfside Beach, just north of Anderson Street and near where the jetties end to the entrance of Huntington Harbour.

In April, officials posted warnings after two 5- to 7-foot juvenile sharks were seen swimming near paddleboarders at Surfside Beach. Then on May 11, at least six 5- to 6-foot sharks were seen near Seal Beach and Huntington Beach.

Marine officials said the sightings are not unusual, but it appears the sharks are bouncing along the coast.

The sharks are not aggressive and have not attacked humans. The young sharks are mostly feeding on stingrays.

A high abundance of prey and warmer conditions are contributing to increasing growth rates of juvenile sharks, according to a report co-authored by Chris Lowe, a marine biology professor who runs the Shark Lab at Cal State Long Beach.

Young sharks in Southern California have limited space to expand their population, Lowe said.

The Bolsa Chica Full Tidal Basin and the Huntington Beach Wetlands Complex are considered to be restored fish nurseries, where some of the predatory sharks have been spotted.

Efforts to restore fish nurseries could increase shark population along the coast, the report said.

Authorities urged swimmers and surfers to report any shark sightings.

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Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATE

3:02 p.m.: This story was updated with more information about Friday's tagging mission and the number of sharks that were tagged.

This story was originally published at 1:12 p.m.

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