Local news outlets are at it again, channeling the ignorant public’s nightmares of Jaws — sensationalizing the presence of hammerhead sharks off our coast. Lifeguards responded to a sighting (YouTube video here of the encounter) of a hammerhead shark by kayak anglers near La Jolla Shores by closing down the beach.
Newsflash folks: there are sharks in the ocean, ALL the time. If you’ve surfed, bodyboarded, swam or just splashed around in the waves of a San Diego beach, you’ve been in the water with a shark big and strong enough to make a meal of you. But you’re here, reading this, because sharks don’t want to eat you. As I’m sure you’re aware, shark attacks are fluke cases of mistaken identity. Especially on the left coast, where great whites, makos, and thresher sharks are present within a stone’s throw of the surfline year-round.
Fishermen have been spotting hammerheads regularly since last summer, especially for the last few weeks when it’s probably more noteworthy to not see a hammerhead at some point during the day than it would be to have one circling the boat. The hammerheads, like the hooked tuna they are hoping to find alongside your vessel, are here in unusually large numbers due to the warmer than average water temperatures.
“We are seeing a hammerhead almost every trip, more than I have ever seen, they are trying to get every tuna we hook up,” said Sonny Dawson of Exotics Fishing Charters, who sent us the attached video clip below of a recent encounter with a hammerhead 35 miles west of Point Loma (warning, some adult language at the end of the video).
Fishermen are more in tune with the local sea life more than any other group, sans the oceanography scientists atop the cliff in La Jolla at Scripps. And while sharks take their share of hooked fish and can frustrate anglers at times, fishermen as a group recognize the importance of them within the ecosystem rather than fear them. On the contrary, I’ve never met a saltwater fishermen who appreciated the presence of a California sealion, an overpopulated nuisance species adored by many landlubbers.
So expect to see continuing coverage of sharks terrifying beach goers with their mere presence alongside “heartwarming” stories of Sea World saving another washed up rodent of the sea that mother nature is attempting to purge. They just don’t get it.