The Red Triangle marks a region along the coast of Northern California starting from Bodega Bay down just past Monterey Bay to Point Sur. From these two land points it extends out into the Pacific and meets just past the Farallon Islands 27 miles from San Francisco. This roughly triangular shape designates an area rich in marine wildlife. Within the Red Triangle is a large population of marine mammals that is higher than the rest of California. Elephant seals, harbor seals, sea otters, and sea lions exist in abundance in the cold waters of Northern California because they favour the temperate, sub arctic and arctic waters of the North Atlantic and North Pacific. They come here to moult just after the breeding season. Surfing these waters is considered to be insane by many, even when you’ll more often then not catch a few waves with a bottlenose dolphin.
However, what makes the Red Triangle particularly daunting is that these mammals are exquisite meals on the menu for great white sharks. Most inconveniently, surfers mimic a seal when they put on a wetsuit and to an untrained eye, a bobbing surfer waiting for a set to come looks exactly like a seal playing in the breakers. They say imitation is the greatest form of flattery and in much respect a surfer is a seal, for he/she not only looks like one but seems to play like one as well. So now that the situation has been properly confused for our intrusive friend, it is no wonder one might find themselves invited to dinner with a great white, as the main feast!
What is even more unfortunate is that within the Red Triangle are some of the best breaks California has to offer including Half Moon Bay, the home to the Mavericks Invitational, one of the world’s premier big wave surf competition. These beaches have seen an increase in human activity over the years and consequently shark sightings, although the chances of being attacked are still very slim. Marine biologists have tried studying these elusive hunting machines to understand more about what makes up their food chain and whether humans found themselves on that list by accident or on purpose. Although much is still unknown, experts say that it is most often the young curious adolescent sharks that are spotted, not the adults. Again, attacks are very rare and most cases where sharks do attack they take a bite and then promptly let go realizing that you are in fact not a seal; but there are cases that prove the contrary. This begs the chilling question, do great whites develop an appetite for humans once they have had a taste? The most recent shark attack to date on a surfer within the Red Triangle happened in Eureka on October 30th 2012. The most recent known fatality happened in Southern California on Wednesday October 24, 2012.