15,000 sharks riding the waves in Florida; time to watch ‘Jaws’

March 07, 2013 | 11:53 a.m.

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.”

How cozy.

In honor of the beach-loving sharks, here’s the trailer from “Jaws.”

— Amy Hubbard

More in: Science, Jaws


2 Responses to 15,000 sharks riding the waves in Florida; time to watch ‘Jaws’

  1. Lori Sirianni says:

    I think the angle of this news story should have been far different. Please note that these are NOT great white sharks as in "Jaws" – and even the author of "Jaws", Peter Benchley, later regretted that his book and the movie had fostered fear and hatred of sharks. These are beautiful, extremely important creatures who maintain ecological balance in our oceans. And, we should remember that the oceans are their home, not ours.

    I think this article could have been more respectful towards these animals and it would have been nice for The L.A. Times to have obtained video of their migration, which must be beautiful to see, rather than perpetuating fear and loathing of sharks by showing the trailer from "Jaws".

  2. E. Dashiell says:

    We get it every year. It's gorgeous to watch, but when I was sixteen it ruined surfing for me forever. Rough seas with low viz (for here anyway) and a literally feeding frenzy broke out, shaking and lifting my board out of the water with me screaming on top…so now we suit up and dive with them instead :). It's just another wonderful part of living in Palm Beach County. The tourists love it this time of year, why not our spinner sharks?

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