Hundreds of people gathered at Cal State Long Beach Saturday to experience the university’s renowned Shark Lab first-hand.

The open house allowed people to take a tour of the facilities at CSULB’s College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics in an effort to teach the public about shark research while providing tips to stay safe in the water during the summer.

In addition to learning about the shark research the university does, people at the event had the opportunity to take part in activities such as “sharks and crafts,” making homemade lava lamps, math puzzles, and even see a pair of sharks up close.

A volunteer shows children how to make a homemade lava lamp using baking soda, cooking oil and food coloring, during the Shark Lab open house event Saturday, July 22. Photos by Fernando Haro.

“They were a lot bigger than I thought,” Long Beach resident Michael Kek said.

Kek said he lives nearby and had no idea the Shark Lab existed until this event was promoted.

“It was really nice to experience it,” Kek said, adding that he realized humans need to be more protective of the ecosystem.

A shark inside the Shark Lab pokes its head out of the water during the open house event hosted on Saturday, July 22.

Christina Kings was one of more than 80 people lined up at one point Saturday to see the sharks.

Kings, a Long Beach resident, said the event piqued her interest because her 9-year-old son is learning how to swim, and she wanted to understand what is happening at her local beaches.

“I think it’s great for the community and that it’s geared towards families,” Kings said.

Through the activities, Kings family learned a plethora of information, including why sharks prefer the waters off Southern California, and the makeup of shark biology, such as why they have so many teeth.

“They’re not hunting us,” Kings said. “They’re just living their life.”

Earlier this year, researchers at CSULB’s Shark Lab released a study revealing that juvenile white sharks and humans actually have more close encounters that previously thought.

This, according to researchers, confirms that surfers, swimmers and sharks can coexist peacefully and may one day change people’s perceptions about sharks.

Between January 2019 and March 2021, there were no reported shark bites in any of the 26 beaches surveyed in the study.

A child touches a shell during the open house at the Shark Lab Saturday, July 22. Photo by Fernando Haro.

Study: Juvenile white sharks stay near SoCal city shorelines, but beachgoers are mostly safe