Expert chimes in on dramatic shark sighting in New Jersey surf

Videotape showing a shark swimming rapidly through the New Jersey surf earlier this month has been reviewed by an expert who said the species most likely is a scalloped hammerhead. Hammerhead sightings this close to shore are unusual but viewers can clearly see the dorsal fin a couple of times just beyond the waves, and at 26 seconds the full shark comes into view in the face of a wave.

Based on this perspective, Marc Kind, husbandry director at the Adventure Aquarium in Camden, said the species most likely is scalloped hammerhead. Kind told N.J. 101.5 that hammerheads patrol through waves in this manner in pursuit of prey: small fish, rays, and skates.

The footage was captured by Mike Ragone, who said rays were also seen in the surf off Island Beach State Park.

Scalloped hammerheads are found in tropical and temperate seas around the world. On the East Coast, New Jersey marks the end of their northern range. Scalloped hammerheads, which are considerably smaller than great hammerheads, can reach lengths of about 14 feet. Another species that shares the same general habitat is the smooth hammerhead.

Kind said he could not be 100 percent certain that the shark in the video was in fact a scalloped hammerhead, without having a closer look at the hammer-shaped head.

Hammerheads in general are considered potentially dangerous to humans and, according to the International Shark Attack File, there have been 21 recorded unprovoked attacks attributed to hammerheads. Two were fatal attacks.

This was the first of two shark episodes filmed this month off Island Beach State Park. The other shows various types of sharks in a surface feeding frenzy that occurred as close as 50 yards from shore.

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