Hammerhead shark sighting prompts lifeguards to close Oceanside shoreline

OCEANSIDE, Calif. (KGTV) — Oceanside's shoreline was closed Tuesday after the sighting of a 9-foot long hammerhead shark. 

Oceanside Lifeguards temporarily closed the city's beaches from Wisconsin Ave. to Harbor Beach around 11:30 a.m. Police officers were dispatched on a boat offshore to keep an eye out for the shark, according to the city. 

The shark was last seen swimming about 100 yards offshore, south of the Oceanside Pier. The shoreline was reopened at 2:30 p.m. after a final search of the area came up empty.

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Video posted to Instagram reportedly caught the hammerhead coast by the Oceanside Pier at about 11 a.m.

The Instagram user who posted the video, who asked 10News to refer to him as "Nick B.," told 10News he was fishing near the pier's bait shop when the shark swam past.

Hammerhead shark sightings are rare along the coastline, according to a release from Oceanside Lifeguard Sergeant Mason Turvey. The sharks are attracted to warmer waters and have been known to frequent tropical coastlines.

If hammerhead sharks are spotted, they are typically just "passing through our waters," Turvey wrote.

According to Dovi Kacev, a shark researcher with The Southwest Fisheries Science Center, the shark is a ‘Smooth Hammerhead Shark.”

Kacev says the species of hammerhead is common off the coast of Baja California and they have been known to venture near Southern California beaches when the water temperatures rise above 70 degrees.

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“This is a particularly warm year, particularly near the coast, so I've just been waiting for the footage of them to appear,” Kacev said. “The prevailing thought is they’re moving north with their prey in this warmer water, so they’re up here searching for food.”

Kacev says the hammerheads eat bony fish and stingrays, adding that stingrays are also attracted to warm waters. In fact, several human encounters with stingrays were reported this summer.

“(Hammerheads) find stingrays in the sand," he said, adding that they're not looking to harm humans. "They are a really neat animal. They are out there trying to find food and stay away from people as much as possible."

Kacev added shark attacks are rare, and getting attacked by a hammerhead is even less likely because it is not known to be an aggressive species of shark - like the great whites we've seen this Summer. 

As recently as July 2, Oceanside Lifeguards were on the lookout after two great white shark sightings ahead of the July 4 weekend.

In June, Oceanside Lifeguards also investigated reports of a shark taking a bite out of a woman's canoe.

 

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