BATHERS were ordered out of the water after two sharks were reportedly spotted near a Gibraltar beach.
The incident caused officials to close Miami Beach in Black Strap Cove, with red flags being flown to warn swimmers of the potential danger.
Royal Gibraltar Police took to Twitter to warn beachgoers, posting: “#gibbeaches reports of 2 sharks sighted off Black Strap Cove (Miami Beach) No bathing allowed. Red flags flying.”
While the sharks have not been formally identified, the sighting is believed to have been a basking shark, which are occasionally spotted in the Straits.
“They were most likely basking sharks, we tend to see them about two or three times a year out on the boat, the most recent was about three months ago,” Tony Watkins of Dive Charters Gibraltar told the Olive Press.
“They are absolutely huge and so it may have looked like two sharks because of the distance between the two fins, although I expect it was just one. I would be very surprised if it were any type of predatory shark.”
Watkins added with a laugh: “Having said that, everything that comes into the Mediterranean has to pass through the Strait, which is only five miles wide, and one of the biggest great white sharks ever caught was near Malta!”
The beach has now reopened.
We used to live in Cornwall and these were a common sight, especially thirty years ago, when anything up to 7 could be seen together off one beach.
Numbers dwindled after the onslaught on mackeral in the late 70′ and early 80’s by foreign factory ships, which sucked up thousands of tons of mackeral for processing into fish meal and fertiliser.
Those vast shoals of mackeral have all but disappeared, but how this fits into the picture of a decline in the number of basking sharks I don’t know, as they are not part of their diet.