Just beyond the breakers at La Jolla Shores Beach in San Diego, California, there are over hundreds of leopard sharks swimming through the sandy shallows, similar to a scene from a horror flick. Usually, when one notices a shark close by, panic will naturally set in. For some reason, the leopard sharks do not invoke the same feeling. Instead of heading back to shore for safety, visitors head the opposite direction towards the leopard sharks in order to get a closed up look at them.
As for those who get the experience of swimming with these sharks, it is something unforgettable for them. “I’ve been doing it for years and I still go out and swim with them. I think it’s awesome,” stated Ezekiel Morphis of HBK Sports, a company that offers kayaking and snorkeling tours with the sharks. The leopard sharks tend to arrive closer towards the shore from the month of June up to early December. The peak period is usually between August and September, when hundreds will congregate along a small stretch of La Jolla Shores Beach.
Majority of the sharks that journey to La Jolla tend to be pregnant females. Juveniles are rarely seen. Hence, scientists believe that these sharks gather in the area to help with the gestation process. Due to a submarine canyon just offshore, the waves are smaller, keeping the colder water from the deeper end from mixing with the warmer water of the shallows. This is the perfect condition for the cold-blooded leopard sharks to be in before giving birth somewhere else. “What these females are essentially doing is incubating. They’ve developing embryos like a mother bird would sit on the eggs to keep them to warm,” explained Andrew Nosal, a postdoctoral researcher at the Birch Aquarium in La Jolla.
However, that doesn’t provide us with the logic of swimming with sharks. Unlike larger, fear-inducing species such as the Great White Shark, leopard sharks are actually non-aggressive and surprisingly timid creatures. They will usually swim away whenever there is a commotion nearby in the water. Aside from that, they also have small mouths and teeth. Their usual diet includes crustaceans, shrimp and bony fish. Therefore, even if they were to bite, it wouldn’t be as fatal compared to the larger species of sharks. “There’s always a small risk of danger when you swim with animals. But leopard sharks are generally non-aggressive. They’re actually quit skittish and can be quite difficult for snorkelers to approach. The best way to swim with these animals is to float because kicking or any kind of noise tends to scare them away,” said Andrew. For more information, you can read it here.
In order to be able to swim with sharks, you will first need to possess swimming skills. This is something Happy Fish Swim School can offer. Although we are unable to offer you the experience of swimming with sharks, we can still provide you with swimming lessons, so that you can enjoy that experience in future.