This Year's U.S. Open of Surfing Was a Bit Like 'Jaws'

Every year, 200 of the best surfers on the planet congregate on the coast of California to compete for the most prestigious prize in the business—highest honors at the U.S. Open of Surfing. This year, however, looked a bit different than years past. With climate change kicking up some surprises—and endangered species protection measures working—there has been a notable uptick in the shark population in Huntington Beach and the surrounding areas. In fact, a whopping 18 shark sightings have been made so far this year. This was more than enough to sound the alarm for officials, who wanted to put on the safest surfing competition they possibly could.

Lifeguards and other officials on jet skis were dispatched to make sure that this year's event went swimmingly. Although local surfers did not seem fazed by the precautions, they do have a lot of experience when it comes to the shark population. In fact, about 36 sharks were seen in 2016, so this year's numbers probably did not surprise savvy surfers.

After a very close call with a shark at a recent South African surfing competition, it seems as if the entire surfing community has been put on alert. Even experienced surfers who happened to watch this part of the competition were surprised by how close the shark came to one of the competitors. Luckily, the competitor in question was made aware of the problem immediately, and all of the surfers were pulled from the water as a result. In this kind of climate, perhaps it should not come as a shock that organizers are on high alert. With the safety and security of all surfers in mind—as well as the terrible headlines that a shark attack would generate—many people put safeguards in place to keep all U.S. Open competitors secure this year. Although they didn't seem too concerned, it is very likely that all of the surfers were extremely grateful for the extra eyes on the ocean.



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