Seven Gill Sharks flock to San Diego

Seven Gill Sharks flock to San Diego

Apr 01
Seven Gill Sharks flock to San Diego

Sevengill sharks started appearing in the San Diego area a few years ago, and their numbers appear to increase each year. They are most commonly seen in the Point Loma kelp area, and the La Jolla cove. There have been several sightings in the “cove” during the last couple of weeks, including the 2 sharks in the above photo taken yesterday by Scott McGee (cropped, taken with Nikon D800, Ikelite housing).

Here is an exciting sevengill shark video taken a few days ago by Scott McGee, in La Jolla cove.


This video below was taken two days ago by Rod Watkins at the outer reef of the La Jolla Cove Ecological Reserve.  A sevengill shark can be seen at the very beginning of the video and again at the 2:23 mark.


The Broadnose Sevengill Shark, Notorynchus cepedianus, has been seen in increasing numbers in the San Diego area since 2009.  No one is really sure why the number of interactions with these sharks has been increasing but theories include everything from deep ocean currents to ocean currents due to global warming. The sharks seem to make an appearance every couple of years. Their max length is 9 ft  and they are opportunistic feeders, going after other sharks, rays, bony fish, and sea lions. There is a good article here on their return to San Diego.

Mike Bear, a REEF surveyor, has set up a website ( to act as a central repository for data and submissions on these creatures.  If you’ve managed to catch one of these on film or video, be sure to submit it to the site to help with possible identification using the dark patterns on their backs as unique identification markers.

A pair of criss-crossing sevengill sharks (Notorynchus cepedianus) at La Jolla Cove.

Criss-crossing sevengill sharks, photo by Scott McGee, taken 3/31/2013 in La Jolla cove, San Diego, CA


Here are some underwater photography tips for the sevengill sharks, courtesy of Scott McGee, who has had several encounters with them, including one recently.

  • They are curious and aren’t afraid of bubbles. I know this because my backup regulator was bubbling constantly through the whole dive and it didn’t deter them. Maybe it even attracted them.
  • They make multiple passes. On my first encounter in 2009 off Pt Loma, the same shark did 3 obvious passes by us and upon reviewing photos from earlier in the dive, it was lurking in the shadows before then. At La Jolla Cove recently, there were at least two sharks that did multiple passes.
  • Sevengills usually swim near the bottom, so in order to get better shots, you’ll want to be on the bottom and angle up a little. Be aware of the difference in lighting at the bottom vs looking up towards daylight, and set your camera to be a little underexposed. It’s easier to lighten the dark areas than correct for over exposure.
  •  Sometimes they’ll swim straight at you and veer off as they get closer. If you follow them, they can get skittish and speed off.
  • The only aggressive behavior I’ve heard of was from a spear fisherman who had dead fish on a stringer attached to his body.


Sevengill shark underwater photo

Sevengill shark, photo taken in June 2011 by Steve Murvine