Exploring San Diego


Leopard sharks are back for the summer in La Jolla

Leopard Sharks
Posted at 5:06 PM, Aug 20, 2021
and last updated 2021-08-21 17:24:53-04

LA JOLLA, Calif. (KGTV) -- Every summer, thousands of leopard sharks head to the shallow waters of La Jolla for mating season.

Most of these sharks swimming in the cove of La Jolla are female, and all of them are pregnant. They come to warmer waters to speed up the birthing process.

"August and September are the peak months where usually hundreds of sharks can be seen," said Alexandra Mier y Teran, Marketing Coordinator at Everyday California.

If swimming with sharks sounds dangerous, rest assured that it’s not. Families can grab a snorkel and spend some time together with them if you're ready for such an experience.

"Marine biologists consider leopard sharks to be totally harmless to humans, so people of all ages can safely swim with them in the shallow water right next to the beach," said Mier y Teran.

Since the leopard sharks in La Jolla prefer warm shallow water, you won’t need to go too deep to swim with them. However, if you don’t have your own gear, you can always rent them.

"You can also check out local adventure shops, like Everyday California to rent snorkel gear and get a map of the area where guides can show you where they’ve seen the most leopard sharks that day. Kayak tours are another great way to get out on the water and catch a glimpse of these harmless creatures, as well as other marine wildlife."

Leopard sharks typically keep to themselves but are pretty easy to spot. They have distinctive dark brown spots that resemble a leopard print, hence the name.

"Adult leopard sharks average around 5 feet in length but rarely weigh more than 40 pounds. Most are homebodies that remain in the same area for much of their lives."

Leopard sharks have small mouths and teeth which is made to feed on the seafloor.

"Unlike other species of sharks, they feed on animals that live in the mud, like the fat innkeeper worm, crabs, shrimp, octopuses, and fish."

After leaving California, the sharks are known to swim north; however, researchers have not figured out exactly where they go.