It’s been a busy August. Leopard sharks at La Jolla Shores Beach have attracted record numbers of visitors. The harmless sharks appear every summer, but there were more of them than usual this year. In addition, the hot weather (ok, not hot by Phoenix standards) drew crowds of locals and vacationers looking for a spot to cool off.
Some folks waded in the shallow water at the south end of the beach to see the sharks. Others kayaked, but most put on snorkel gear and swam around looking for them. No one was in danger of being eaten alive. The sharks prefer clams, shrimp, crabs, and fish eggs. (Actually, sunburn was a greater danger than shark bites, so I hope that everyone was practicing safe sun.)
Adult leopard sharks can reach up to 6 feet in length. They get their name from their markings – dark spots on a gray background – that look similar to a leopard. The pregnant females come to La Jolla Shores every summer for the warm water that helps them birth their pups. The spawning season lasts until October.
More Marine Life
In addition to leopard sharks, an unusual number of stingrays have been hanging around the Shores. Don’t worry about these guys either. If you let them know you’re there, they’ll leave. That’s why everyone entering the water is encouraged to shuffle their feet back and forth on the ocean floor to give them a warning. This move is known as the “stingray shuffle.”
If you do get barbed by a stingray, contact the life guards immediately and soak the affected area in hot soapy water.
Jellyfish have also been a nuisance this summer. I’ve seen them almost every time I’ve walked on the beach for the past couple of months. It isn’t a problem for me (wearing shoes), but lots of swimmers have been stung. When my nephew emerged from the ocean with a red patch on his belly, we took him to the lifeguards. They applied rubbing alcohol and told him to get back in the water because salt water deactivates the stinging cells.
He was happy to comply.