It’s finally legal to swim off the shore of Orange Beach, Alabama, after a crowd of sharks dispersed into deeper waters Tuesday, officials say.
The trouble on Orange Beach began Friday when a helicopter pilot took a picture of five sharks circling a boat near Perdido Pass. The pilot relayed the picture to the city administrator, who told lifeguards to get swimmers out of the water.
On Saturday afternoon, double red flags — warnings to would-be swimmers to stay out of the Gulf of Mexico — were raised over the half-mile stretch of beach where the number of sharks continued to grow.
“There have been a significant amount of shark sightings prompting us to close the water in these areas. It is unlawful to enter the water when double red flags are flying,” read a Saturday post on the Orange Beach Fire Department’s Facebook page. From that point, the situation only got worse.
Orange Beach safety director Melvin Shepard, who says swarms like this are extremely rare, told CNN he saw a photo of 18 sharks in the same stretch of water Sunday.
“I’ve lived on the coast here my whole life, and I’ve never seen a group of sharks as large as this one,” said Shepard.
So what’s drawing the sharks? Shepard has a hunch.