Cue the theme music from the blockbuster movie Jaws.
Well, not quite. But some vacationers in Florida did have a shocking experience when as many as seven hammerhead sharks swam into shallow water and cruised past their raft.
The experience began when Lacey Faciane, Casie Thompson, and Qyuston Eubanks were relaxing on their raft off a beach near Pensacola, Florida, over the Memorial Day weekend, a Newsweek article reports.
Jacqueline Lesso was on a nearby boat when people first spotted the sharks and began to film the experience. The footage shows at least four of the sharks swimming through what appears to be waist-deep water.
Faciane told Fox10 Tampa Bay News that the encounter was “an awesome experience,” Newsweek reports. She went on to say that “usually you have to pay for that.”
A Close Encounter
In Lesso’s film clip, which you can see here, you can hear people scream in surprise as the sharks appear near swimmers, rafters, and boaters in shallow water. You can hear some laughter and also see that some people even tried to approach the sharks.
As the sharks swim by their yellow raft, Faciane, Thompson, and Eubanks watch helplessly.
“One boater would yell ‘shark,’ and then the next group would yell ‘shark,’ and that’s just kind of how it was,” Faciane said in a CNNwire story. “And so by the time they got to us, they were right up on us.”
Interestingly, all three women had different reactions. So while Faciane said the experience was “awesome,” Eubanks didn’t share that opinion.
“I was like, ‘Lord protect us! If it’s time for us to go, it’s time for us to go,” Eubanks told CNNwire. “Just protect us.”
Thompson added that “It’s very rare to have a group of hammerheads just swim by you — so it’s kind of a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing.”
A Special Shark Series
Mature hammerhead sharks can be 13 feet to 20 feet in length, and weigh between 500 and 1,000 pounds, according to National Geographic. The predators’ wide-set eyes give them a better field of vision than other sharks, which makes it easier to find prey. The sharks also have a group of sensory organs — called ampullae of Lorenzini — spaced along their broad heads.
“Ampullae of Lorenzini allow sharks to detect, among other things, the electrical fields created by prey animals,” National Geographic explains. “The hammerhead’s increased ampullae sensitivity allows it to find its favorite meal, stingrays, which usually bury themselves under the sand.”
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission explains that hammerhead sharks live in both the open ocean and shallow coastal waters of both the Gulf and Atlantic coasts of Florida. They are often found swimming in inlets and the mouths of bays.