A shark scare before a big holiday weekend is not something any beach community wants. “Don’t let this ruin your Labor Day holiday weekend if you plan on coming to the beaches,” says city spokesman Grant Brown.
Shark activity near the public beach area prompted city leaders to post purple flags warning beachgoers about the potential danger. “It was in front of our swimming area at our public beach which gives us a little more cause to react with a purple flag,” says Brown.
“It means caution, there’s dangerous marine life and you need to tread carefully,” says Jayden Cox who didn’t let the purple flags stop him from enjoying a day at the beach. “I don’t like let it ruin my day or make me scared,” says Cox. “I get in the water but I always do keep my wits about me.”
More than a dozen species of sharks are native to this part of the Gulf of Mexico. Many can be seen daily at Gulf State Park Pier much to the chagrin of anglers and while occasionally shark sightings are made closer to shore the fin you see in the water is more likely to belong to a dolphin than a shark. “People do get dolphin and sharks mixed up,” says Caitlin Hagamaker enjoying a day at the beach. “You see a fin and you think oh shark but dolphins are shaped differently than shark.”
The gulf is home to all kinds of marine life and it’s important to remember we are the visitors. “There is always going to be some of that activity off shore,” says Brown,”so, when you go in the water just be careful.”
Purple flags remain up for now only on the Gulf Shores public beach. Unless there is more activity close to shore the flags will most likely come down Thursday.