MOBILE, Ala. (WKRG) — Video of hammerhead sharks off shore at Orange Beach have gotten a lot of attention. The splashing close to shore draws the attention everyone near the beach. Are they dangerous and a threat to people? Dr. Sean Powers a Senior Marine Scientist at Dauphin Island Sea Lab talks about the sightings.
Read the full interview below or watch it in the video above.
Jessica: Video of a hammerhead shark thrashing around close to shore at Orange Beach has gotten a lot of attention this week. This video was posted on Facebook Monday.
Bill: Yeah, that splashing around alerted the people that are in the water and they quickly came on shore. The shark eventually settled down, swam back out into the Gulf.
Jessica: Well, here to talk about this video and about sharks and where they are, Dr. Sean Powers, the chair of the Marine Sciences Department at the University of South Alabama, also a Senior Marine Scientist at the Dauphin Island Sea Lab. We’re glad to have you this morning.
Dr. Sean Powers: Oh, thank you.
Jessica: Tell us what you thought of when you saw that video. I mean.
Dr. Sean Powers: My first reaction was probably similar to everybody else. It’s amazing. I mean, I’ve seen a lot of video, but that hammerhead in the way it moves so fast and it was so agile and so shallow of water, it’s just really cool.
Bill: What is it that makes this unusual?
Dr. Sean Powers: Well, it’s unusual for us to see hammerheads in this area come up that behave here. Is it unusual why you see hammerheads? They go into really, really shallow waters. But we don’t have that many great hammerheads in this region. So that’s a good sign, actually, that that many of those sharks populations are recovering after years and years of overfishing.
Jessica: Oh, that’s interesting. What do we see in our area, if not hammerheads? We’ve got other sharks.
Dr. Sean Powers: Closer to the shore. We see a lot of blacktip sharks. That’s probably the one the beachgoers would encounter. Most are a little farther offshore, a lot of tiger sharks. So we have a lot of sharks off Alabama. Just hammerheads aren’t one that’s that common that we see that close to shore.
Bill: And what what is the key? Just thrashing around in the water like this? What is it just feeding or is it.
Dr. Sean Powers: It is just feeding. So so hammerheads specialize on stingrays. So which is if you don’t like stingrays, you want more more hammerheads there. But they’ll use a big hammer to pin down the stingray and eat them. So they’re really specialized for this behavior to look for stingrays.
Bill: And you do find stingrays that will come close to shore like that.
Dr. Sean Powers: Oh, now stingrays will. And a lot of the reason they’re coming close to shore is to avoid the sharks that could eat them. So every now and then, you get a hammerhead that figures out, Oh, I can go really shallow, but it’s amazing to see how agile they are. And the people did the exact right thing. Get out of the water getting. Shark attacks by hammerheads are extremely, extremely rare. Any shark attack is rare. But by hammerheads just because of the way their mouth is underneath them and the big hammer. But people did the right thing being cautious and get out of the water.
Bill: Out of the way.
Jessica: Yeah. Get out the way. And they did do that. That was one of the things that was really noticeable in that video is how the people reacted. If you see a hammerhead or any shark, you say, Just get out, just go.
Dr. Sean Powers: Just give them their territory. They’re not going to stay long because they’re they’re looking for stingrays or other fish and prey. And if they don’t find it, they’ll leave.
Bill: All right. There you go. Yeah. Dr. Sean Powers, our guest. Thank you for being here. We appreciate it very much. And congratulations on the new Marine Sciences School at USA.
Dr. Sean Powers: Thank you very much.