Last week, photos went viral showing a shark swimming in about 3-4 feet of water — dangerously close to beachgoers near the Seacrest Condos in Gulf Shores. While this incident was undoubtedly scary for spring breakers, it’s important to lay out a few facts about sharks in our area.
– Yes, shark sitings like last week’s are common, as many shark species make their home in the Gulf of Mexico. In fact, our friend Captain Scott at Little Lagoon Guide Service consistently spots bull sharks, blacktips, and Alabama spinner sharks among others. The fact remains that sharks are very close to swimmers at all times — but not always as close as those photos indicate.
– CBS 42 reached out to Dr. Marcus Drymon, who has focused on sharks for over 10 years as an assistant professor at South Alabama and Senior Marine Scientist with Dauphin Island Sea lab. Drymon determined that the shark off the coast last week might have been a great hammerhead, which is a rarity for the area.
– Once the water temperature hits over 72 degrees or so is when sharks steer closer to the shore. That puts prime shark season in Gulf Shores between April and November.
– The city’s beaches are monitored by, among others, pilots who frequently fly over beaches. Once spotted, communication is made with lifeguards on the ground. From the air, it’s easy to notice herds of sharks near fishing piers, as food from fishermen is abundant. In times of danger, beaches will close for days at a time, as they did in both 2014 and 2015.
– Sharkattackdata.com lists the number of shark attack data for the entire state of Alabama since 1900. And while preventative measures always should be taken around sharks, only two fatal and unprovoked attacks have occurred in the state, and both of those took place in the 1890s.
The bottom line is that so long as your exercising caution, you’re safe in our waters.
If you’re looking to buy, sell or lease, contact us at Century 21 Meyer – Kris Powell. We consider ourselves stewards of the area, so even if you’re just visiting and need a little information, we’re happy to answer any and all questions you have.