That little beauty is a salmon shark that washed ashore at Stinson Beach in Marin on Sunday. KQED’s Sarah Baughn was visiting the beach when this turned up next to her boogie-boarding 9-year-old. A beach lifeguard estimated the length at about 2½ feet.
It’s not the only salmon shark sighting. Someone posted this YouTube video of an Aug. 5 encounter with the species …
Alexandra Picavet, a public affairs officer for Golden Gate National Recreation Area, said it’s not entirely unusual for small sharks to beach themselves at Stinson Beach. “Salmon sharks do occasionally end up coming onto shore and then getting caught by a wave and being brought into water that’s too shallow for them to swim back out,” she said.
Lifeguards picked up the sharks and returned them to the water in both visitations last week. The area of the beach at which the incidents occurred was closed for about an hour each time, Picavet said. Because these sharks were juvenile, they were not seen as a threat.
After a dead salmon shark washed ashore at the beach in 2011, shark expert John McCosker of the California Academy of Sciences told the Marin Independent Journal that people often misidentify them for great whites. Picavet said that great white or other large sharks will occasionally pass through Stinson Beach waters, and when that occurs the GGNRA will close the entire beach for five days.
From the Marin IJ after the 2011 sighting …
Salmon sharks feed on salmon, squid, sablefish and herring and do not generally pose a threat to humans. They can grow up to 9 feet long and weigh in excess of 450 pounds. The species is prevalent throughout the northern Pacific Ocean and off the coast of Marin.
More on the salmon shark from the Shark Info website.
Oh, and by the way, if you find yourself face-to-teeth with these things, on the beach or in the water, tell a lifeguard, Picavet said. Don’t try to handle the animal yourself because; 1) You might injure yourself; 2) You might injure the shark; 3) What are you, nuts?
That last one is courtesy of us, not the Golden Gate National Recreation Area.