A kayaker fishing off California’s Dana Point experienced an unusually close encounter with a hammerhead shark that attempted to steal his catch and acted “aggressively” toward him over the weekend.
Bill Morales experienced his run-in with the shark on Sunday, roughly a half mile off the California coast. According to KTLA, the hammerhead shark was drawn to the kayak by a number of fish that Morales had caught and attached to the side of his boat with a bungee cord. The angler described the hammerhead as “attacking” the side of his kayak, as it attempted to separate the fish from the boat.
— CBS Los Angeles (@CBSLA) September 18, 2015
Morales and a friend managed to film their encounter, and video provided to news outlets appears to show the shark trailing behind Morales’ kayak, seemingly latched onto the bungee cord. The unidentified man who filmed Morales and the shark described the hammerhead as “big” in comparison to the kayak. Neither man was injured during the encounter, but the hammerhead was able to make off with several of their fish.
The incident is hardly Morales’ first encounter with a hammerhead shark in the region. In a video clip filmed separately, the kayaker was circled by a shark for roughly 40 seconds before the predator eventually swam away. In total, Morales has experienced four such encounters with hammerhead sharks in the area, and he believes several of them may be with the same animal.
— NBC Los Angeles (@NBCLA) September 18, 2015
Both hammerhead sharks and great whites have been reported recently approaching unusually close to California shorelines, as the Daily Mail points out. Another hammerhead was spotted in the shallows just off Huntington Beach, prompting lifeguards to issue a warning to beachgoers. Sighted at 1 p.m. on Thursday, the hammerhead shark was just 75 yards from shore, located close to the pier. Since the shark was under eight-feet-long and not acting in an aggressive manner, lifeguards declined to close the beach, instead settling for making the public aware of the shark’s presence.
The unusual number of sharks and their proximity to shore is being blamed by some experts on a stronger-than-average El Nino. The cyclical weather pattern has resulted in unusually warm waters in the eastern Pacific, and researchers believe it is causing prey fish to migrate from more tropical areas. This, in turn, has led to a high number of great white and hammerhead sharks approaching the California coastline.