I love to walk over to the beach in the evenings, after most of the crowd has left and the sun is starting to go down. I usually find some sea glass and a shark tooth, if I’m lucky. Last night was a little different. I found more shark’s teeth than ever, just this time they were still in the mouth of the largest shark I’ve been up close and personal with outside of an aquarium!
Pic taken at Atlantic Beach, FL, 18th St. beach access
We were walking the beach, which was pretty empty because it had recently been raining. Only a handful of people were milling about, walking dogs and letting the kids run through tidepools. Out of the corner of my eye I saw a little commotion and something flapping in the shallow water. My husband said, “I think those guys have a shark,” so we walked over to get a closer look.
The first thing I saw was two guys that appeared to be sitting on a large shark. There were fishing poles nearby, so it appeared they caught the shark fishing and were sitting on it in shallow water to remove the hook. After that, they both lifted the shark up for a quick photo. I’m not positive, but it looks like it may be a Sand Shark. They often come close to shore and are not known for attacking people.
I’ve seen many people catch baby sharks at our beach (if you are a parent, you can start humming the tune now) but never anything of this size. It appears they caught Daddy Shark, as his claspers were on full display. I learned all about shark reproduction parts last year, when I came upon only part of a shark on the beach and thought it was a dead stingray. After posting that photo, some people pointed out that was actually shark genitalia I had found, minus the rest of the shark. I wrote all about the story here: That One Time, I Posted About Shark Penis.
So here I am again, back in the spotlight because of a shark. Of course this is the one time I didn’t bring my phone with me, so I got my friend to take the photo and send it to me. All I did was crop it and post. She didn’t want her name everywhere so I did not credit the pic. My post on Facebook went a bit viral and was shared hundreds of times as of this morning. Some people are commending the guys for putting it back in the water. Some are very angry and seem to think the shark is ready to give birth or that the short time out of the water must have killed it. I can assure you, it is male and it swam away. My favorite comments were from all the ladies more interested in the beefy guys holding the shark than the actual shark.
They posed for a pic for maybe a minute and then made a huge effort to put the shark back into deep enough water for it to swim away safely without getting pushed back onto the beach. One guy carried it into waist to chest high water, with waves crashing over his head. It was crazy to see and if the shark was aggressive, it could have easily turned around and bit him! But it swam quickly away.
So am I thinking twice about going swimming at our beach? Yes. I knew they were out there but seeing it this close is a little frightening. And even though it’s not an aggressive species, it still freaks me out to be in the often brackish water here in Jacksonville, knowing there are large sharks lurking nearby. I’m even apprehensive about the baby ones! I grew up with pretty clear water on the Gulf Coast and haven’t been very keen on going in the ocean since we moved here. The shark is not helping, lol. I still love the beach, but stick to ocean swimming on mostly clear days and areas shallow enough for me to run out as soon as something bumps me. That something could be a wisp of seaweed but I’ll practically run on water to get away as fast as possible!
Soooo who’s ready to go swimming?
* Follow-up 4/11/19: The news picked up the story! – Atlantic Beach Fisherman Save Huge Shark