With panicked cries, beachgoers were yelling at swimmers to “get out of the water!” after sharks invaded the shallow waters on a beach in Gulf Shores, Alabama, on Friday about a mile from the state pier in front of the lighthouse condos.
Kayla Blanks of Birmingham, Alabama, used her cellphone to capture part of the frenzied scene that shows a little boy and a woman, likely his mother, scrambling out of the water with swimmers in the background and a shark approaching.
There were three sharks close by and they apparently were chasing fish.
“We think it was a small tarpon or schooling baitfish,” Blanks told WKRG.
People were yelling “shark,” but not everybody responded quickly because of a language barrier.
“I would like to add it could have been a very different scenario if the volunteer firefighter from Montevallo, Alabama, had [not] jumped in and helped get the people’s attention that didn’t speak English,” Blanks wrote on Facebook.
Blanks also wrote that a shark came within inches of one swimmer. Fortunately nobody was injured.
A common refrain from commenters on the ABC News Facebook post about the scene was that sharks live in the Gulf of Mexico and people shouldn’t be freaked out when they see them.
“The panic is because they are much closer to said shark than what anyone wants to be,” Chad Hanners wrote. “Nobody is stupid enough to believe that sharks don’t live in the ocean. Everyone knows this and I have a feeling that nobody really cares. It’s when they are face to face with something dangerous that causes the panic.”
“The shark is chasing its food, nothing shocking about this except the tourist not realizing this is called nature and the water they are visiting is a habitat and home to amazing wildlife,” Kat Oden wrote.
“My daughter and I were in the water swimming when this happened,” Kevin Croslin wrote. “We looked around and everyone was scrambling to get out of the water. There wasn’t really a panic. But to people saying it’s no big deal, how dumb would you have to be not to get out of the water at that point?”
The Times-Picayune reported that since 2000 there have been eight unprovoked shark attacks on humans in Alabama and none were fatal, but this was clearly an instance where the sharks were seeking a fishy food source that lured them close to shore.
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