Shark Infestation

By: Elyse Molstad Email
By: Elyse Molstad Email

Public safety officials’ shutdown three-and-a-half miles of beach in South Walton County Thursday because of sharks.

South Walton Beach Director, Gary Wises' phone rang off the hook Thursday with call-after-call reporting bull-shark sightings along the beaches of South Walton. "Have Sarah keep the shark in her eyesight; just stay with the shark and keep people out of the water," Wises said.

In two hours time there were 16-18 confirmed sharks sightings, some as close as 10 feet from the shore.

These sharks weren't just looking. One of them actually moved aggressively toward a group of swimmers.

"Basically, the first thing to do is to get everyone out of the water,"
Wises said.

Walton County lifeguards and beach patrol took immediate action, getting people out of the water, raising the double-red flags, and leading the sharks to deeper water.

Lifeguards didn't draw straws to see who would herd the sharks and they say the sharks did make moves toward the jet skis. "He came at me really fast one time and I gave it gas and got away from him. It was a little nerve wracking I guess."

Bull sharks are very unpredictable and aggressive.

Video captured in July 2000 showed a bull-shark that bit the arm and leg off an 8-year old boy in Pensacola.

By 1:00 Thursday afternoon, lifeguards were able to change the beach warning flags back to green.

However, some parents' weren't taking any chances, including Heather Arnold. She said, "We were planning on going to the beach and playing in the ocean, but there's sharks!"

Shark infested waters have deterred some folks from going to the beach on Thursday however, some went didn’t seem to mind.

Mary Trehar of Freeport, Florida said, "It's just part of nature, you just learn to go with the flow. They're just doing what they have to do to survive, just like we do."

If you’re swimming and you see a shark, experts recommend you remain calm and get out of the shark's path.

It’s also a good idea to swim near a lifeguard tower so someone from an elevated level can watch the water at all times.


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