Long Beach State Selects Sharks As New Mascot

Six months after university leadership retired its controversial Prospector Pete mascot, California State University, Long Beach — also known as Long Beach State — announced on Friday the selection of Sharks as the new school mascot.

The decision concluded a student-initiated process in which the university solicited ideas for a new mascot, allowed community members to vote on their favorites and then offered up three finalists for a student referendum. More than 350 submissions were narrowed down to six choices: Giraffes, Kraken, Pelicans, Sharks, Stingrays and “Go Beach” (no-mascot).

Sharks, Stingrays and “Go Beach” were announced as the three finalist on April 30, and appeared on a student ballot from May 6-8. Following three days of voting, Sharks was selected by a wide margin (53 percent compared to 25 percent for “Go Beach” and 22 percent for Stingrays).

“We have benefited from a thoughtful, thorough and inclusive process by our students,” university president Jan Close Conoley said in a statement, noting how the new mascot aligns with the campus’ Shark Lab, which has been featured several times during the Discovery Channel’s Shark Week. “I am grateful to all the university’s stakeholders for their participation.”

The university now enters what it anticipates will be a year-long development process to determine the look of the physical mascot, including its personality characteristics and overall design. The interlocking “LB” logo will continue to be the athletic department’s primary logo, while the photos shown in this article are among the handful of conceptual renderings submitted by the public and local artists during the voting process.

Though initially a representation of the school’s founding year, the former mascot, Prospector Pete, had been criticized in recent years for being offensive to indigenous people. 

“The Prospector Pete image grew from our founding in 1949 and reflected our Founding President Pete Peterson’s common references to having struck the gold of education by establishing Long Beach State College,” Conoley said, noting the term “49er” will remain an informal nickname and an identifier for alumni, students and supporters, as well as the name of the student newspaper. “But we’ve come to know the 1849 California gold rush was a time in history when the indigenous peoples of California endured subjugation, violence and threats of genocide.”

Vice President of university relations and development Michele Cesca added the school’s athletic programs will continue to use the “Beach Athletics” moniker, while the baseball team will retain its longstanding informal nickname of the “Dirtbags.” Athletic director Andy Fee added that colors and uniforms for Long Beach State’s 19 varsity programs will also remain unchanged.