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Ocean expert offers up controversial solution to end spike in great white shark sightings

One Santa Barbara ocean expert has a solution to keep great whites away from our coastal waters.

Hillary Hauser, Executive Director of Heal the Ocean, is the first to admit that her suggestion is highly unpopular.

“Putting white sharks and sea lions and people all in the same bath tub is not good science,” Hauser told NewsChannel 3. “Not good environmentalism, not good ecology because everything has to be considered.”

Hauser talked about the findings of scientist Carleton Ray, who created the first marine park and was on the U.S. Man and Biosphere Program. Ray found when tackling environmental problems and issues, if man was not factored into the equation, the outcome would fail.

Hauser said if we stop encouraging and protecting seals and sea lions at the rookery on the Carpinteria coast, the marine mammals will be forced to find a new site. Ideally, she said, one that’s far from swimmers, surfers and people, altogether.

“The world’s safest swimming beach is on one side of the seal rookery and on the other end of the cove of that rookery is the top of Rincon Point, where there are surfers in the water,” Hauser said. “I personally feel that it’s an accident waiting to happen.”

Hauser said that the rookery on San Miguel Island, teaming with seals and sea lion prey, has turned that part of the Santa Barbara Channel into a great white breeding ground. She also said protections under the Marine Mammal Act of the 1970s has brought an increase in seals and sea lions along California’s coast and that some scientists believe that is contributing to a growing great white shark population.

“Sounds terible but if we could get that (Carpinteria rookery) population of seals out to the (San Miguel) island, they’d be safer anyway from boats and everything else.”

Hauser said the marine mammals eventually took over that section of the Carpinteria coast when the oil boats stopped coming.

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