Several videos of sharks coming near the beaches in Panama City and Cocoa Beach, Fla., and Gulf Shores, Ala., have been shared on social media.
The first report comes June 1 from Alicia Dufrene, who was on her balcony in Panama City when she spotted a hammerhead shark swimming in circles near shore. She was able to film the 4- to 5-foot shark as it left the shallows, about 20 feet from the beach.
Dufrene shared her video with the shark reporting app Dorsal, and said the shark “zig-zagged in a fast pattern” before it left and then returned before finally leaving.
The small shark was probably chasing prey as it swam near the beach.
Kayla R. Blanks had a similar experience on June 16. Blanks was visiting Gulf Shores when she spotted a large shark heading toward the beach. The Birmingham resident quickly ran toward the ocean with her cell phone as she recorded images of a 10- to 12-foot great hammerhead shark as its fin pierced the water surface.
Posted by Kayla Rotenberry Blanks
The shark was chasing a tarpon, which is the Alabama state fish, as it tried to escape in the shallow water. “Yes, it was right in front of me and, yes, he came within inches of someone!” Blanks wrote on Facebook.
The tarpon came close to beaching itself as the shark chased it as far as possible into extremely shallow water. The tarpon swam off with the shark in pursuit. Beachgoers rushed out of the water as the event unfolded.
“Yes, I know sharks live in the ocean, but I normally don’t think about them until you see them!! #respectthesharks,” Blanks posted, adding “I would like to add it could have been a very different scenario if the volunteer firefighter from Montevallo, Alabama, had [hadn’t] jumped in and helped get the people’s attention that didn’t speak English.”
While hammerhead sharks are not considered a major threat to humans, they should be respected and avoided especially when they are hunting.
A different species of shark was spotted June 17 as it chased after a meal in Cocoa Beach. The 6-foot shark was filmed just south of Lori Wilson Park, in front of the Ocean Landings Resort.
The shark, which appeared to be a black-tip was in an estimated one to two feet of water as it chased baitfish around 10-feet away from a bodyboarder.
The bodyboarder was oblivious to the shark’s proximity and even caught a wave that carried her within inches of the predator.
The shark appeared to venture in ankle deep water as it came between the beach and a group of bodyboarders floating just past the breakers, before it swam into deeper water.
While black tip sharks have been known to bite people, it is believed sharks may confuse humans with fish. A flash of a pale skin in rough murky water can appear similar to the shimmer of a fish’s scales.