by DAISY SAMPSON [email protected]
Dozens of sharks have been spotted in waters along the Algarve coast by fishermen and people on boat tours.
Although there appears to be an increase in the number of hammerhead sharks, beachgoers have been told not to be alarmed as they are “more scared of us than we are of them”.
Peter Cain photographed what he believed to be hammerhead sharks off the coast of Praia das Furnas near Salema on August 24.
He told the Algarve Resident: “While skippering a boat on the way to Sagres, we came across several hammerhead sharks, which were up to three metres in length. At the time, the sharks were just 300 metres from Praia das Furnas.”
Zoomarine marine biologist Élio Vicente told the Algarve Resident: “It is hard to tell from the pictures if it is a hammerhead but it certainly could be as there are confirmed reports of these sharks in our waters.”
Other reports of sharks have included a sighting of a group of sharks, known as a school or a shiver, also off the coast near Salema by a fisherman from Portimão.
“This year reports of sharks have been more common in the Algarve, as they have been seen somewhat closer to the shore than normal. However, that does not mean that this has not occurred in the past, it just means that this year it has been officially reported,” said Élio Vicente.
He continued: “The truth is that sharks are a common thing, as the species is known to migrate through the Algarve coast.”
Hammerhead sharks can be found worldwide in warmer waters along continental shelves and coastlines and, unlike other species of shark, it is usual for them to swim in schools.
With a reported increase in sharks, public safety concerns have arisen but there is no need to worry about sharks attacking swimmers along the coast, said Élio Vicente.
“Sharks never leave the water to attack humans, it is the humans who go towards the sharks, entering their territory and imposing on their habitat. Even so, the species does not feed on humans or marine animals.” Tales of surfers being mistaken for turtles, seals or sea lions and being attacked by sharks do not apply in this case.
“These shark species do not prey on humans and will not confuse us with other marine mammals. They are much more scared of us than we are of them and because of this, they will not come too close to the shore and will not come near swimmers as they are afraid of our sounds and movements,” said Élio Vicente.
He added: “In my opinion, we should be grateful that the Algarve continues to have this level of biodiversity and should make the most of this opportunity to marvel at nature’s creation, of which sharks, as I see it, are some of the most wonderful examples.”