Family get close to hammerhead

  • This hammerhead shark was spotted by Julie Compton and her family in Flatts inlet.

A family paddleboarding close to Flatts Inlet got more than they bargained for when a hammerhead shark swam between their boards.

Julie Compton and her husband, Jim, were heading to Gibbet Island when they spotted a fin sticking out of the water.

They initially thought it was a spotted eagle ray, but soon realised it was a six-foot-long shark.

Ms Compton told The Royal Gazette: “Suddenly it came towards us and we saw what it really was. It swam right between our two boards and then under. I was terrified.”

Ms Compton said the pair carried on paddling faster around the island towards Flatts Inlet and St James Court.

She said: “We got out at our dock and went straight to tell our friends about it. As we were talking, I said ‘I don’t know where it went, maybe it followed us back’. Immediately after I said it, Jim looked at the water and said, ‘It’s right there.’”

The couple’s children, Maddy and Noah, recorded footage of the shark on their mobile phones.

Ms Compton said that the shark continued swimming close to them for about ten to 15 minutes.

“My husband spoke to a guy at Dive Bermuda and he said in all his years diving here, he’s never seen one and that we were super lucky.”

Shark researcher Choy Aming said that a hammerhead sighted inside the reef was extremely rare.

Mr Aming, who spends a great deal of time on the water including tagging sharks, said: “I’ve only ever seen two hammerhead sharks in Bermuda in my life and they have both been offshore both during whale season.

“Hammerheads aren’t particularly dangerous. Obviously, it is a big shark with teeth, but I have been diving in Galapagos with a school of 50 swimming around me. They are fairly rare here.

“I think he went out for a wander. From the video footage it is only about six or seven feet, which isn’t a particularly big shark. The two I saw offshore were at least ten feet with a dorsal fin that was three feet above the water.

“It is one of those one-off things.”

He warned: “If you do see a shark in the water, you should get out, particularly if you don’t have any experience in the water with the sharks.

“If you ever see one, I would exercise caution. Back out slowly from the water with no frantic movements — you can upset it as well if you get a little panicky, so caution is always advised.

“We should have a lot more sharks, but I am convinced that overfishing from three or four decades ago has pretty much decimated the shark population and it is going to take decades for it to build back, if it ever does come back.

“As of right now, there are no protections for toothed sharks.”