Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) bears have been in charge for months. This we know. Even Apple bulls have had their faith shaken as shares lost 45% of their value between September and April, including a handful of institutions that have been dumping or reducing their long positions.

Investors are short on confidence in the Mac maker these days in the face of smartphone deceleration and margin contractions. Those are ideal conditions for short-sellers to take advantage of, exacerbating the plunge and shaking out even more shareholders in the process.

As Apple rallied from its lows following earnings, short interest skyrocketed to an incredible 41.6 million shares. That was counterintuitive, since increased short interest typically corresponds with falling share prices. Well, the exchanges have now posted short interest figures for May 15, and the bearish sentiment has returned from whence it came.

Aapl Si

Source: Nasdaq.

Short interest has plunged back to 26 million, albeit that figure is still high relative to historical levels for Apple. The jump during the latter half of April was remarkable, and shows how much negative sentiment there was heading into earnings. The 41.6 million shares that were being held short corresponded to the trade date of April 25 (just two days after the earnings release), so bears were still out and about right after earnings.

The May 15 figures that were just released correspond to a trade date of May 10. Between April 25 and May 10, Apple rallied by an impressive 11% before giving back some of those gains. Investors can now conclude that the 15.6 million short shares being covered helped contribute to that pop.

At some point before May 10, notable Apple bear Jeffrey Gundlach of Doubleline Capital also closed out his short position, and even said some kind words regarding the Mac maker's current valuation. A significant number of Apple bears have bailed on their short bets. Where'd they all go?

Fool contributor Evan Niu, CFA, owns shares of Apple. The Motley Fool recommends Apple. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.