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Hammerhead sighting makes waves on social media

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A still image of a hammerhead shark recorded swimming off Dockyard (Image from social media)

Ocean-goers were told not to worry after a video of a hammerhead shark swimming near Dockyard surfaced on social media.

The recording, which was shared on Facebook and WhatsApp, showed a group on jet skis approach the predator before it swam away.

Chris Flook, a naturalist with the Bermuda Institute of Ocean Sciences, said it appeared that sightings of hammerhead sharks near the island were becoming an annual event.

Last year, a hammerhead was spotted off South Shore in Paget shortly after Hurricane Lee passed the island, while there was a series of sightings of the sharks in 2018.

“With more people on the water more often, sightings of these large animals are not a surprise,” Mr Flook said. “We live on an oceanic island in a key position for these migratory animals.

“They end up inside the reef either due to being disorientated or purposefully looking for food.

“Hammerheads’ favourite food is sand-burrowing fish, like razorfish or flounder, and rays, cownose and spotted eagle.

“Humans are not part of their diet.”

Mr Flook added that there was evidence that female tiger sharks used Bermuda’s north lagoon to pup their babies, and the sharks were sometimes seen cruising near the water’s surface at this time of year.

“Sharks in general have taken drastic decline in numbers over the years due mainly to industrial overfishing,” he added.

“Seeing sharks in our waters should be celebrated as they are a sign of a healthy environment.

“These large apex predators should be avoided and respected but not feared.”

Choy Aming, of the Bermuda Shark Project, which monitors the behaviour and movements of sharks, wrote on Facebook that hammerhead sharks were becoming increasingly rare.

“They have experienced a population decline of over 90 per cent since 1970,” he wrote. “They are mostly by-catch in commercial fishing fleets, so they are not even eaten.

“I have seen four in Bermuda in my life. They are pretty harmless and nothing to worry about. I have been in the water with them a few times in different countries.

“I was really surprised it stayed so close to the jet skis. Normally they are really skittish. Maybe we get lucky and get a few more around the island.

“They are happy to eat a cownose ray, and we have plenty of those.”

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Published June 06, 2024 at 7:58 am (Updated June 06, 2024 at 7:58 am)

Hammerhead sighting makes waves on social media

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