Shark Sighting Closes Newport Beaches

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Hammerhead_sharkLocal beaches were shut down this week after a shark was spotted near the Newport Pier.

An 8-foot hammerhead was seen in the water near the end of Newport Pier around 11 a.m. Monday, Newport Beach Fire Department spokeswoman Jennifer Manzella reported.

Newport Beach Lifeguard personnel were alerted to the presence of the shark and, per protocol, immediately closed the beach between 10th and 40th streets (one mile in each direction from the sighting location) on the Balboa Peninsula.

“The shark did not display any aggressive behavior,” Manzella wrote in a message.

Signs were posted to notify the public. They expected to reopen the beaches by Tuesday morning.

Lifeguard personnel reassessed the situation throughout the day and sent out several email updates.

There were no other shark sightings the rest of the day.

As of 4:30 p.m. Monday, the closure of the waters around the pier was lifted.

“The Newport Beach Lifeguards have replaced the closure signs in the area with advisory signs, warning that a shark has been sighted in the area,” Manzella explained.

Lifeguard staff reassessed the situation on Tuesday morning. The advisory remained in effect and signs posted until Tuesday afternoon.

No more shark sightings were reported.

There have been a few other reports of hammerhead sightings along the Southern California coastline this summer, including one just north of Newport. The 7-foot shark was spotted near the Huntington Beach pier in September.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has a few tips to stay safe in the water and avoid sharks.

Experts advise swimmers not to tray too far from shore, stay in groups and try to avoid being in the water at twilight or during the night. Also steer clear of jewelry or brightly colored swimwear. And, of course, do not go in the water if bleeding.

“Shark attacks, though rare, are most likely to occur near shore, typically inshore of a sandbar or between sandbars, where sharks can become trapped by low tide, and near steep drop offs where shark’s prey gather,” the NOAA explains. “The relative risk of a shark attack is very small, but the risks should always be minimized whenever possible.”

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