Shark encounter closes San Diego beaches

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The San Diego Fire-Rescue Department Lifeguard services closed the beaches between La Jolla Shores and La Jolla Cove after several kayakers had a close encounter with a hammerhead shark. It occurred just after noon today and had beach-goers scrambling from the water after lifeguards made their announcement. The shark was exhibiting very aggressive behavior and marine biologists with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography confirmed the species and size of the shark as well as its aggressive behavior.

The shark is estimated to be between 8-10 feet in length and apparently followed the kayakers into shore. They reported the sighting to lifeguards, showing them a video they shot while the hammerhead circled them, just a foot from their kayaks at times. The beaches will remained closed for 24 hours.

There were swimmers in the area and they hopped on the kayaks to get into shore.

There have been more shark sightings in recent years, but shark attacks off Southern California beaches remain rare.

Below is the video shot by the kayakers.

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Update: Sept. 1, 2015 — There was at least one more sighting of a hammerhead shark in the same area over the weekend on Sunday, but in deeper waters further from the shore. Rather than close the beaches for a second day lifeguards issued a “Shark Advisory” warning beach-goers there are sharks close to shore.

Biologists and lifeguards said the hammerheads, which are always in the area off the Southern California coast, are probably closer to shore because of the warmer water that is attracting more fish, the sharks’ usual food source.

The second sighting was from a kayaker fishing in the area. He had fish blood trailing his kayak which attracted a shark that followed him to shore. When the kayaker flagged down a lifeguard rescue boat — and noting a swimmer in the area, about 250 yards from shore — the shark turned away and headed for deeper water.

(Top photo by San Diego Fire-Rescue)