WJTV News Channel 12 - Swimmers warned as sharks flock to Alabama beach

Swimmers warned as sharks flock to Alabama beach

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ORANGE BEACH, Ala. -

Double red flags were still posted in the area near Alabama Point at Orange Beach for the second day Sunday -- alerting people to avoid swimming due to a high volume of sharks in the area.

The City of Orange Beach posted the warning after a dangerously high number of sharks in the area. WKRG-TV reported that there were "hundreds" of sharks in the small area on Saturday and Sunday.

The warning was posted at Alabama Point and the Shell Parking lot to the east of Alabama Point, closing these beaches for recreation.

"Hopefully once people stop throwing their fish carcasses into the water, they may not be swimming in such numbers that close to the beach," said Melvin Shepard in a release sent to News 5.

News 5 took to the air with Oasis Helicopter and spotted between 100 and 150 sharks grouped together near the pass. On Monday, there were about 25 sharks.

News 5's Blake Brown took to the water by boat Sunday afternoon and within 5 minutes of being on the gulf, he'd spotted his first shark.

We're still not sure what kinds of sharks are grouping together near the pass. One boater suggested they are Mako sharks, which are very common in the gulf waters.

Beach safety supervisor Melvin Shepard says anyone entering the water can be fined. Shepard says the shark swarm may be linked to a large number of fish carcasses in the water during red snapper season.

After a joint helicopter flight conducted by News 5 and City of Orange Beach officials, aerial pictures show most of the sharks that have gathered in the Perdido Pass area have left on Monday.

However, the City of Orange Beach is keeping its double red flag warning up until at least Tuesday morning when another flight is planned.

News 5 flew seven miles down the coastline from state line to Gulf State Park pier and counted about 22 sharks. That number is much closer to normal, according to Orange Beach safety officials.

WKRG's Pat Peterson didn't see any huge shark congregations near the pass, saying it was "mostly individuals."

As for the size of the sharks, Peterson says he saw "a few 6-7 footers, but mostly 3-4 footers."

Although everyone is strongly advised to avoid the waters with double red flags, many swimmers are taking their chances as they dive into the water. Orange Beach authorities will continue to monitor the situation.

Most of the time, sharks tend to stay away from humans, only feeding on fish, and other sea life. However, we have seen our fair share of attacks here on the gulf coast.

Just last year in 2013, a man was pulled from the waters at Pensacola Beach when he was bit.

One of the most remembered attacks happened in 2001, when Jessie Arbogast was attacked. The shark ripped into him on Pensacola Beach when he was a young boy. His story made national headlines, because his uncle wrestled the shark to free Jessie. Jessie survived, but is now confined to a wheel chair, suffering permanent brain damage.

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