French beach on alert after third shark sighting

Lifeguards in southern France are on alert after spotting a shark just metres from the shoreline of a popular beach - the third such sighting in recent days.

French beach on alert after third shark sighting
A file image of a shark fin. Photo: Rich MacDowell/Flickr
There's something lurking beneath the surface in the waters of southern France. 
Red flags were raised at the Plage du Bocal du Tech, near the town of Perpignan in southern France, on Saturday after a shark was spotted near the shoreline. 
The sighting marked the third in ten days at the beach, which isn't far from the Spanish border.
“At first I thought it was a swimmer doing the backstroke, then I saw the churn in the water, and fish jumping out of the sea,” one beach goer told the France Bleu Roussillon radio station. 

(The beach is not far from the town of Perpignan, near the Spanish border. Photo: GoogleMaps)
A lifeguard, who took to his jet ski to ward off the creature, noted that he saw “a big fin” and estimated the shark to have been up to two metres long. 
While it remains unknown exactly what type of shark was spotted, lifeguards are confident that it was indeed a shark, and dismissed claims that it could have been a sunfish. 
Bathers were advised to stay out of the water, and lined up on the shore to watch the spectacle. Indeed, beach goers probably don't have reason to panic – there has only been one fatal shark attack in the coastal waters of mainland France since the 1840s.

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Shark sightings and minor attacks on the rise as bathers return to Spanish beaches

The lockdown and Storm Gloria have facilitated the return of marine species to seawaters which were previously dominated by human activities.

Shark sightings and minor attacks on the rise as bathers return to Spanish beaches
Photos: Wikimedia

Just days after Spain allowed its 46 million inhabitants to head to the country’s beaches for the first time in more than two months, a number of shark encounters have showcased how quickly the animal kingdom can regain territory. 

There have been more than 15 sightings of basking sharks (the second largest shark in the world) along Spain’s Mediterranean coast so far this spring.

Spain’s Civil Guard captured images of one of these enormous creatures, which measure up to eight metres in length but are not considered a threat to humans.

On the Canary island of Tenerife, another marine species – the angel shark or monkfish (see below)– has been swimming in shallow waters where up until recently only beachgoers would be found.

There have been four attacks in just three days, with experts warning the public they shouldn’t interact with the creatures as they bite when they feel threatened.

“The drop in maritime traffic and fishing activities as a result of the confinement measures have a lot to do with the increase in shark sightings, ” Claudio Barría, a researcher at the Institute of Marine Sciences (ICM-CSIC) in Barcelona, told Telecinco.

“Some studies indicate that Storm Gloria (a storm which brought gail-force winds and heavy rainfall to Spain in January) could have increased the amount of plankton in the Mediterranean, attracting more sharks that feed off it”.