It’s shark season at the Farallon Islands!
October 13, 2023
written by Jim Tietz, Farallon Program Biologist
Every fall, the white sharks return to the Farallon Islands from their annual migration to the middle of the Pacific Ocean. We typically see the first shark predation event during late August, and then the number of predations increase through September to when they peak in October. The sharks come to the Farallones every fall, and other places along the California coast, to feed on pinnipeds (or seals and sea lions). The two species of pinnipeds they hunt the most in California waters are northern elephant seal and California sea lion. Sometimes the sharks will take advantage of an already dead carcass and scavenge it. To determine whether the sharks killed their prey or are scavenging something dead, we look for blood in the water during any feeding event – blood indicates that the prey species was alive when the shark initially attacked it. The sharks feed on pinnipeds during the fall to fuel their migration back to the middle of the Pacific in December and January.