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Shark Advisory - 8/26/04

August 26, 2004

Gulf Shores/Orange Beach, AL – Today on a routine flyover of Alabama’s beach, the Marine Resources Division of the Alabama Department of Conservation observed a larger than normal number of sharks of various lengths in the waters from the Florida state line to the west end of Little Lagoon.

The sharks were approximately 100 yards offshore and the increased number is believed to be related to large numbers of baitfish in the area. “We saw approximately 24 sharks in an area where seeing five to six is usual,” said Vernon Minton, director of the Marine Resources Division. “While we believe the increased activity is related to the increased number of baitfish, and not a direct threat to folks enjoying the waters, with these kind of numbers, we think it’s prudent to exercise increased caution.” Minton added that because an increased number of sharks was observed, his agency will make flights daily, weather permitting, to review the situation until the numbers return to usual levels.

The Marine Resources Division recommends that everyone enjoying Alabama’s coastline observe the following swimming safety tips at all times.

  • BE A SAFE SWIMMER! Swimming in the Gulf is much different than in a swimming pool. It is important to respect the strength of the sea and the aquatic life that calls it home.
  • Never swim alone. Always stay in groups. Don’t wander too far from shore.
  • Stay within designated swimming areas. Don’t swim near piers, pilings, and platforms. Exercise caution when swimming in areas between sandbars or near steep drop-offs.
  • Do not swim in areas being used by fishermen. Avoid swimming in areas where schools of small fish are present. Diving seabirds are good indicators of areas to avoid.
  • Alcohol and swimming do not mix.
  • Use extra caution when waters are murky. Avoid being in the water during dusk, nighttime or twilight hours.
  • Avoid wearing shiny jewelry and clothing.
  • Stay informed of local weather and beach conditions.
  • Beware of rip currents and undertow. These are turbulent, fast-flowing currents that pull swimmers into deep water and away from the beach.
  • If caught in a strong current, remain calm. Fighting the current can exhaust you.
  • Swim with the current until it weakens, then swim parallel to the shore.

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