Golfers will cite all sorts of distractions for having missed their putts, but a flopping shark has to qualify as one of the more bizarre.
Especially when the golf course, in this case San Juan Hills in Orange County, Calif., is two miles from the beach.
Fortunately, for the 2-pound leopard shark discovered on one of the greens, it was scooped up by a quick-thinking marshal, placed in a bucket of water, and eventually driven to the beach and released.
But the mystery is how the small spotted shark (pictured at right) got onto the golf course in the first place. Perhaps the best theory is that it was picked up by an osprey and wriggled free of the fish-eating bird’s grasp somewhere over the course.
“We couldn’t believe it was still alive,” Melissa McCormack, director of operations at San Juan Hills, told the Orange County Register. “There was a puncture wound under his dorsal fin and there was fresh blood. We assumed he was picked up by a bird and dropped here.”
McCormack added: “This is the weirdest thing I’ve ever seen here. There’s been nothing as bizarre as this.”
But was it an osprey, or is the explanation significantly more fishy?
Dan Sforza, assistant chief of the state Department of Fish and Game, said leopard sharks are targeted by anglers, but they have to measure at least three feet. (Leopard sharks can grow to seven feet.)
However, there’s a black-market trade for the smaller sharks because of their “cool-looking” appearance in saltwater aquariums. This one may have been dumped.
“They’re real cool-looking. Maybe it got too big for someone’s tank,” Sforza said.
Perhaps, but the osprey theory seems the most plausible, given the puncture wound on the shark and the birds’ ability to carry large fish over long distances with their sharp talons.
Whatever the case, there are some golfers who have a tale sure to be told many times at the 19th hole, and there’s a shark somewhere in the ocean, if it survived the ordeal, with a new lease on life.
–Top image shows the course. Bottom image shows what a healthy leopard shark looks like in the water and is courtesy of Monterey Bay Aquarium
More on GrindTV:
SHARKS: Standup paddler fends off shark attack with paddle
PHOTOS: Rare wildlife photos reveal nature’s secrets
VIDEO: Haunting underwater adventure on a self-propelled wheelchair