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Swimming with Sharks

Swimming with Sharks

One of the coolest local phenomena in San Diego is the leopard shark aggregation that appears every summer off the coast of La Jolla. Without fail, come late August, the beaches on the south side of La Jolla Shores become peppered with the graceful silhouettes of these bottom-feeding fish. I squeezed in a quick swim with them this past weekend, and it did not disappoint: I saw at least a couple dozen beautiful sharks. With any luck, I'm hoping to repeat the experience this weekend.

The leopard shark, Triakis semifasciata, is related to other sharks and rays, and can grow up to six feet as an adult. Like other sharks, they have rows of sharp teeth, but they are harmless to swim with because they feed only on small creatures (e.g., fish, clams, squid) and ignore humans entirely unless provoked. So you can brag that you fearlessly swam with sharks, while knowing it was not in fact an act of bravery.

If you live nearby and want to see the sharks for yourself, I highly recommend it. Grab your snorkel and jump in the water right next to the Marine Room. Viewing is often great there, but sometimes you have to swim out toward the La Jolla caves to get your best glimpse. Water temperatures at LJ shores and the cove are especially lovely right now (~70°F), making the experience all the more pleasant (no wetsuit needed). Hurry, because most of the sharks usually don’t stay past October.

For all kinds of info on the La Jolla leopard sharks, check out our Q & A with shark expert Dr. Andrew Nosal.

Video & all photos by Lauren Shipp, taken with a Sony CyberShot

Food Rules: An Eater's Manual by Michael Pollan

Food Rules: An Eater's Manual by Michael Pollan

From the Web

From the Web