Shark Sighting Follow-Up

By: Rayne McKenzie
By: Rayne McKenzie

Lifeguards say the sharks were as close as three meters from the shoreline of South Walton Beach, but tourists don't seem to be concerned.

The biggest shark sighting in two years isn't taking a toll on business at South Walton Beach. Just days after the beaches were closed to protect beachgoers from a group of bull sharks the shoreline is again filled with tourists.

Santa Rosa Beach lifeguard Sam Serratl said, "I haven't seen a decline today, but it is overcast and I just haven't seen a big difference."

I spoke with more than 10 families Sunday about the shark sighting and to my surprise no one had heard of the incident. However, after hearing about the aggressive sharks being seen so close to shore, most families said they would be more alert.

An out of town beachgoer Christina Hood said, "We've always been cautious. We don't go far even to our hips."

Ann Brown was visiting the beach and said, "I'm gonna be more cautious with my children, knowing there were bull sharks. It’s always been a fear of mine and it is frightening."

And lifeguards say if you do see a shark in the water, you should try to fight your instinct and stay calm.

Serratl said, "Usually people swim fast and scream, and that's not a smart thing to do. They should keep cool and swim in."

Lifeguards say sharks are not uncommon in the ocean, even close to shore. Usually they are just following a school of fish, and aren't dangerous, but they do say if you see a shark in the water get out, just in case it's aggressive.

No injuries were reported from Friday's shark sightings, and while the beaches have been reopened, lifeguards are urging beachgoers to stay alert for any sharks that may be in the water.

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  • by Karen Location: South Walton Beaches on Jun 27, 2007 at 10:31 AM
    I was at the beach on Friday when the shark(s) were sighted. I actually saw one right at the shoreline; it was about one foot long, if that. It looked like a catfish.
  • by Becky Location: Memphis on Jun 25, 2007 at 04:30 PM
    On Thursday, June 21st, I was at St Joe beach. I had only gone into the water up above my knees. The water was murky making it hard to see. But I definitely know what a saw that day, and it was a shark! I have no idea what kind and had no plans to stick around and see. All I remember is that it looked to be four feet long (maybe longer), had a brownish color (unless that was the water), with a fin on top and on it's side. I immediately turned and half swimmed/crawled out of the water (my knee had been injured the day before and very swollen making it had to get out of the water. The rest of the day, I could not make myself get "ankle deep" into the water and began to second guess myself as to what I saw, but that picture is "frozen in my mind" and I'm sure it was a shark. Now, thinking back, I would be very curious to know what kind of shark it might have been. But one thing is for sure, I will not stop coming to the beach once a year, but will be more concientous about my surroundings while in the water.
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