Surfers and swimmers were called out of the El Nino heated 70ºF waters of Newport Beach, California today after an 8-foot Hammerhead Shark was spotted from the Newport pier. This was the second Hammerhead Shark sighting in southern California in the last month.
Newport Beach, CA is home to the infamous “Wedge” surfing wave that kicks the heck outta body boarders and surfers on the regular.
The Hammerhead was seen at 11am today near the end of the pier according to Jennifer Manzella, the Newport Beach Fire Department spokeswoman.
The shark was not reported doing anything aggressive, but lifeguards decided to close the beach anyway.
The beach is closed for two miles from 10th Street to 40th Street until Tuesday morning. Lifeguards will continue to monitor the waters off Newport Beach and signs have been posted for surfers and swimmers to stay out of the water.
Just last month, a Hammerhead Shark bit a fisherman’s line off the nearby Malibu pier. That same shark was caught by another fisherman’s line only minutes later.
Dozens of Hammerheads have been spotted during the past two summers off the coast of southern California.
Marine biologists are attributing the the increase in Hammerhead Shark sightings in California to the warming waters of El Nino, which is drawing Hammerhead prey and food sources much further north than normal.
A venomous tropical sea snake was even found in Oxnard, CA last week and is considered:
“the northernmost sea snake ever documented in the Pacific Coast of North America. I never would have thought that a sea snake would wash up that far up north.” – Greg Pauly, curator of herpetology at the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County
According to Greg Pauly, the last time a sea snake washed up in California was in 1972, and it came ashore about 100 miles south of Oxnard, CA in SoCal.
“Because the water is so warm here now, these snakes can swim, hunt and reproduce just like they could in the northern part of their tropical range. Simply put, they are here because the warmer El Niño conditions have expanded the range of suitable environmental conditions for this snake. This has also happened with other marine species like hammerhead sharks.” – Paul Barber, professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at UCLA told the Huffington Post