Thousands of sharks — some of them stealing to within 200 yards of shore — have been causing consternation and probably some sweaty palms in South Florida.
On Tuesday, about 50 or 60 of these migrating beasts reportedly were spotted near shore in Palm Beach. They were enjoying their own version of spring break. The sharks like to leap out of the water, riding the waves on the shore break, lifeguard Eddie Green told the Palm Beach Post.
There’s a sentence to make the shark-averse shudder.
Annual migration is taking an estimated 15,000 sharks northward, heading from Florida to North Carolina. On Wednesday, three Palm Beach County beaches were closed after near-shore sightings of the sharks, which are mostly blacktips and spinners, local outlets say.
The migration takes place “every year like clockwork,” said Christopher Lowe, director of the Cal State Long Beach Shark Lab, in an interview Thursday with the Los Angeles Times.
“Most reef and coastal sharks make seasonal migrations along the Eastern Seaboard, sometimes moving as far as from the Gulf of Mexico to New England.”
New England has had its share of memorable shark encounters. Last summer, a “Jaws”-like incident with a kayaker caused bathers to turn tail and run.
In South Florida, there have been no reports of the sharks doing any harm to swimmers or divers. And by Thursday morning, all Palm Beach County beaches had reopened as the sharks seemed to be keeping their distance.
There’s a theory among experts as to why the migrating sharks get so close to the beach in this part of South Florida, according to Lowe: It’s thought that “because the continental shelf is so narrow off that part of Florida, it pushes all the migrating sharks closer to the beaches there.”
In honor of the beach-loving sharks, here’s the trailer from “Jaws.”
– Amy Hubbard