Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Sighting of two sharks triggers warning for Oaxaca beach

The unusual sighting of two sharks uncomfortably close to a Oaxaca beach Tuesday prompted local authorities to issue warnings to the public to take precautions or, preferably, not enter the beach at all.

The sharks were spotted near the shore of Mermejita beach in Mazunte, a tourist destination between Puerto Escondido and Huatulco.

Local authorities in Santa María Tonameca, the municipality in which Mazunte is located, were also asking tourist-related businesses in the area to warn their guests to stay off the beach entirely, according to Fabiola Méndez Ávalos, the municipality’s tourism director.

Her office was working with Santa María Tonameca Civil Protection to distribute warnings and basic information about sharks to the public, urging them to stay away from the animals and explaining that they won’t attack humans unless frightened or unless they confuse humans with their normal prey. Lifeguards were also told to warn beachgoers, she said.

“They are in their habitat,” she told the newspaper Excelsior. “And the humans are the ones who are intruding.”

She recommended that beachgoers visit the area’s other beaches.

The presence of the sharks both frightened and fascinated beachgoers, who could be seen on the beach recording videos of the sharks, though from a distance. In one of the videos that circulated online, the sharks could be seen approaching close to shore.

Mazunte, which became a Magical Town in 2015, is more known for its population of sea turtles than for sharks, but Juan Romualdo Ruiz, a biologist with the University of the Sea, which has campuses in Puerto Escondido, Puerto Ángel and Huatulco, told Milenio that sharks come close to shore in the area from time to time in order to feed on sardines.

According to Mendéz, this is the time of year when sardines appear.

Sources: Milenio (sp), Excélsior (sp)

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