Join Birch Aquarium to Snorkel with Sharks


I vividly remember my first encounter with sharks. It was 1999 and I was enjoying my first summer in San Diego.

I had just finished kayaking near La Jolla Cove with a few friends.  We returned to La Jolla Shores and jumped out when the water was about waist deep. I felt something brush up against my leg so I glanced down and lo-and-behold there was a four-foot long fish swimming away. A moment later I realized I was surrounded by a whole school of 4- 5 foot long fish.  As I looked closer, the hair on the back of my neck started to stand up as my brain started to register them as sharks.

Quickly, another nearby kayaker must have seen the look on my face and told me not to worry; they were only harmless leopard sharks. Sharks? Harmless??

I was not ready to fully trust this stranger so I promptly found my way onto the beach where I could watch the creatures swim around from a safe distance. I was still skeptical about what the stranger had said until the next morning when the Union Tribune published an aerial photograph and story about the sharks in La Jolla Shores. The photograph captured hundreds of sharks swimming next to the beach.

Since that time, I’ve always made a point to take my out-of-town guests who visit during July and August to La Jolla Shores so they too can swim with the sharks. It’s one of the things that makes San Diego such a great place to live and visit. There’s a brief video of the sharks in La Jolla Shores on YouTube that will give you a glimpse of what you’ll see in the shallow waters.

If you would like to explore the life of leopard sharks in La Jolla Shores with experts (there are also smoothhound sharks and guitarfish), you can join the Birch Aquarium for a snorkeling tour. Tours go from 8AM – 10AM and are scheduled for several Saturdays and Sundays starting June 28 and ending September 19th.

For those who are more adventurous, the La Jolla Underwater Ecological Reserve is a great place to go scuba diving with sharks. The following YouTube video taken by a diver in La Jolla Shores to give you an even better appreciation of what to expect in the paradise called San Diego.

Don’t be scared. I’ve been swimming with the sharks since 1999 and now I’m the stranger who calms the newbies when they take their first dip in La Jolla Shores.

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One Response to “Join Birch Aquarium to Snorkel with Sharks”

  1. Juliet says:

    Thanks for the great recommendations. My guests from out of town are planning an outing based on this overview

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