10-year-old shark enthusiast tracks great whites in Del Mar

Local

SAN DIEGO — Wednesday is Shark Awareness Day but for a San Diego 10-year-old, documenting and educating others about sharks is an everyday passion.

Elijah Franklin first started capturing video of sharks off the coast with a GoPro in La Jolla.

“Filmed the leopard sharks under the water. I plan to do that a little this summer too, but since I have the drone, I’ll know exactly where they are before I get in the water,” he told FOX 5’s Heather Lake.

Elijah Franklin shows off his drone he’s been using to capture footage of sharks off the coast of San Diego. (FOX 5)

For the past eight months, Elijah has been using a drone he got for his birthday to spot sharks off the coast, especially in Del Mar where he said he’s recently found many juvenile great whites in the reefs.

“We’ve been here probably about 10-15 times,” he said. “From the beginning of June to now, I’ve spotted sharks pretty much every time.”

Researchers said Monday that they’re seeing more juvenile great white sharks in the Del Mar area. Six were spotted Saturday near 15th Street in video captured by stand-up paddlers.

Chris Lowe, director of the Shark Lab at California State University Long Beach, said researchers have teamed up with the city of Del Mar and its lifeguards to track the movements of sharks off the city’s shoreline.

Elijah said he’d never seen a great white before he started flying his drone. He guesses many of the sharks he’s seen were about 8-feet long, with one as big as 11 feet.

He edits his drone video himself and recently posted an 8-minute clip to his YouTube page GreatWhiteDrone. His goal is to let people know how important sharks are for the ocean and its ecosystem.

His advice to beachgoers: don’t be afraid.

“I’ve never seen a shark act aggressively towards a human or hurt a human, ever,” Elijah said.

Lowe with the Shark Lab agreed, saying, “So far we haven’t seen any signs of what we call aggression.”

When asked what he wants to be when he grows up, Elijah fittingly said a marine biologist.

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