MADRID – While experts continue to stress that sharks are generally not dangerous, the sighting of the animals along the Spanish coast in recent weeks has caused some concern among residents and tourists.
In response to these reports, Cadena SER wonders which beaches are more likely to encounter these marine animals in the water. The presence of sharks in the Mediterranean Sea is not uncommon and certainly not new. These waters have been home to a diversity of shark species for centuries. Furthermore, according to experts, up to 45 different species of sharks live in the depths of the Mediterranean Sea, making this marine ecosystem one of the most diverse in the world.
One of the most common shark species in this area is the blue shark, which is known for its slim body and blue hue. They have an average length of 2.5 metres and weigh about 80 kilograms. Moreover, this migratory species is the most commonly sighted and has no reputation for aggression towards humans.
Gray stick shark
Another common shark species is the grey stick shark, which is larger and heavier than the blue shark. This species is mainly found in warmer waters and can be found in various parts of the Spanish Mediterranean.
Smaller shark species
In addition, there are also smaller species of sharks, such as the catshark and dogfish, which also pose virtually no threat to swimmers.
Sharks rarely attack humans
The presence of a shark near a beach does not automatically pose a threat to the safety of people who are swimming at the time. Moreover, it is rare for these animals to attack humans. In addition, shark experts have warned that many shark species in Mediterranean waters are threatened with extinction.
Although sharks are a common resident of the Mediterranean Sea, they also live around the Strait of Gibraltar and the Atlantic Ocean. In the latter sea, their presence is notable in Galicia and the Cantabrian Sea.
The northern areas, especially the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean and the Bay of Biscay, are home to the largest sharks, which are the most dangerous specimens for both tourists and frequent swimmers. The deeper one descends into these waters, the greater the chance of encountering a shark in its natural habitat.
Here are some places where sharks have been sighted recently:
Galicia and Asturias
These regions are known for the greater presence of sharks, including large specimens. For example, a great white shark of more than 100 kilograms was spotted in the Atlantic waters near the mouth of Vigo. There have also been sightings of basking sharks and sunburst sharks, species not commonly seen off the Galician coast.
Valencia, Alicante and the Balearic Islands
Shark sightings have also been frequent in these areas. While the native shark species in these regions are generally not a threat to swimmers, there have been incidents where beaches have been temporarily closed.
For example, a blue shark caused panic among swimmers on a beach in Valencia, and an injured musola shark was sighted near Las Arenas beach. In the province of Alicante, a shark incident was reported on a beach in Orihuela, where bathers panicked. In the Balearic Islands, there has been a historic sighting of a great white shark off Cabrera Island, and recently the beach at Son Bou in Menorca was closed due to the presence of a blue shark.
The chance of encountering a shark is relatively small
However, it is important to note that the chances of encountering a shark in these areas are still relatively small. Sharks typically avoid crowded beaches and have no interest in interacting with humans. Moreover, the majority of sharks sighted are shy animals by nature and will not actively seek out humans.
Nevertheless, it is always wise to follow the instructions and warnings of local authorities and to take precautions when swimming in open water. This includes avoiding remote areas, swimming in groups, and respecting any beach closures or warnings.
What to do if you come into contact with a shark?
According to experts, there are two tactics you can follow when you see a shark. The first is “get on the defensive.” You do this by maintaining eye contact as far as possible, remaining calm, avoiding unexpected movements and adopting a defensive posture. If possible, make sure you move slowly to a place where the shark can’t swim around you.
The second tactic is the attack: Hit the shark hard in the face with your fist, elbows or knees, especially the eyes, nose or gills and keep fighting even if the shark persists.