If swimming with sharks is something you have always wanted to experience, then you may want to plan a vacation to La Jolla, California, where you will be able to swim amongst not one or two, but hundreds of the ferocious fish. The best part is that you will live to tell the tale, because the sharks that frequent the area, are not interested in humans.
Known as leopard sharks due to their spotted skin, they are an annual phenomenon along this small stretch of family friendly beach, known for its calm waters. Each year, hundreds of them arrive between June and September and spend the summer, 'hobnobbing' with humans. And if you think these are just phony look-alikes, think again.
Measuring up to seven feet long with large pectoral fins, the sharks are as intimidating as any other member of their species. The only difference is their demeanor which happens to be very timid, causing them to dart away as soon as they come in contact with humans. What also helps is that they are bottom feeders, which means they have a small mouth to feast on their prey of crustaceans, shrimp and bony fish. Therefore, even if one accidentally bites a human, the injury would be minimal.
While scientists are not completely sure why they come to this area in such large numbers. However, since the brood comprises largely of female pregnant sharks, they speculate that the calm, warm waters provide the cold-blooded fish a great place to hang out, before moving on to give birth elsewhere.
Though the sharks start arriving as early as June, the largest numbers flock between August and September - So if you are still trying to book that perfect vacation, La Jolla, California may not be a bad destination, especially given the bragging rights it would earn you, when school resumes in the fall.
Found largely along the Pacific coast of North America all the way from Oregon to Matzatlan, Mexico, the fish do not travel far and tend to spend their entire lives in localized areas. As with many other species, the sharks, threatened by over fishing and loss of habitat, had to be placed on the endangered list in the 1980's. Fortunately, a restraint in fishing practices has allowed the population to recover and thrive again!
Resources: news.yahoo.com, Sandiego. org