Officials closed the beach from La Jolla Cove to Scripps Pier after a hammerhead shark showed some very aggressive behavior.
The shark was seen just off the beach circling some swimmers and kayakers. The swimmers were able to climb aboard some kayaks, but the shark followed the vessels all the way to shore.
Experts have identified the shark as an 8- to 10-foot long hammerhead.
Lifeguards closed the beach at approximately 1 p.m. on Saturday and will reassess the situation after 24 hours. They are unsure when the beach will be reopened.
A video posted by ABC 10 News shows the shark as it circles some kayakers. Although the kayakers don’t seem very scared, it’s clear that the shark is interested in them. Its dorsal fin is visible above and below the water during several rotations.
The Encyclopaedia Britannica identifies the behavior shown by the shark as aggressive, especially due to the fact that it is a hammerhead.
“All sharks keep clear of hammerheads, whose maneuverability enhanced by the rudder effect of the head gives them a swimming advantage over other sharks … Sharks circle their prey, disconcertingly appearing seemingly out of nowhere and frequently approaching from below … Activity progresses from tight circling to rapid crisscross passes.”
Lifeguards contacted Dr. Andy Nosal, a Marine Biologist at Scripps Institute of Oceanography, after closing down the beach. They wanted to ensure they made the right decision.
Dr. Nosal agreed that the behavior was enough on the aggressive side to warrant closure.
Lifeguard just said over the PA that a 10ft hammerhead shark was spotted and to clear the water immediately. Good thing we leave tomorrow 😁🐋
— Kevin (@mc99_kevin) August 29, 2015
As soon as the lifeguards took note of the shark, they used various methods to warn people and get them out of the water. Once the beach was clear, Fire Rescue sent a helicopter out to search for any sign of the hammerhead shark.
There have been no additional sightings.
This is not the first time this month that a California beach has had to close due to a shark sighting.
On August 20, two popular Southern California beaches (Huntington and Newport) were closed when a 6- to 8- foot shark hit a surfboard and lifted it, and the man on it, about a foot out of the water. The surfer was not injured, according to the Daily Pilot, but each beach was closed in order to prevent injury to anyone else.
The beaches reopened on August 21.
It is unclear what breed of shark closed the beaches on August 21 or if the hammerhead sighted on Saturday could be the same one.
[ Image courtesy of Barry Peters/Flickr/Wikipedia ]