Have you ever been surrounded by a School of Sharks?

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I have. Just after I arrived in San Diego 13 years ago, I went out kayaking for the first time with new friends who themselves had just moved to town from the East Coast. It was my first introduction to exploring the waters of Southern California. After an enjoyable afternoon of kayaking, I jumped out in waist deep water. As I looked down, I noticed I had some company – several 3 to 4 feet long sharks. It didn’t take long for all the hair on my body to be standing up straight. Someone nearby saw my state of fright and started laughing. They tried convincing me these were harmless sharks.

Well, they turned out to be harmless leopard sharks. I was still skeptical when I went home that night but the next day’s Union Tribune included an aerial photograph on the front page showing several hundred leopard sharks swimming in La Jolla Shores. I had never heard of harmless sharks before then. Now I know.

If you want to learn more about the leopard sharks, you can go snorkeling with the Birch Aquarium over the next couple months, which is generally the only time they hang out right along La Jolla Shores beach. Here is the info:

Snorkel with the Sharks

Dates: July 9, 23 & 30; Aug. 27, Sept. 10
Swim with schooling leopard sharks, smoothhound sharks and guitarfish while
enjoying the mild surf and gently sloping beach of La Jolla Shores. See
rays, flatfish, sand dwelling invertebrates and coastal sea life.

Time: 8-10 a.m.
Cost: $30 per person
Ages: 10+ (minors must be accompanied by a paid adult)
RSVP required: 858-534-7336 or online at aquarium.ucsd.edu

Video of Leopard Sharks in La Jolla Shores

Now, if you encountered these sharks, would you know they are harmless?

Visit La Jolla Shores to see the Leopard Sharks

You can read more about visiting La Jolla Shores in my San Diego travel guide.

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