It’s August and the calm, peaceful inlet of La Jolla Beach just north of San Diego is teeming with families, and hundreds of leopard sharks.
The stop in La Jolla is part of an annual movement of pregnant leopard sharks who seek out the warm, sheltered waters as a perfect spot to incubate their eggs. They come every year, peaking in August and September when the waters of La Jolla can sometimes be full of the 4-6 ft leopard-printed swimmers. Their overall habitat is fairly small, ranging from the waters off of Northern Oregon to the Gulf of California in Mexico, so for them coming into La Jolla is a pretty big trip.
Leopard sharks are harmless, timid members of the shark species. In fact, there’s only one incident recorded in the International Shark Attack File involving a leopard shark. According to the report, the shark was ‘harassing’ a diver with a nose bleed. Both parties left the incident unharmed.
Kayaking is a popular way to get up close and personal with the sharks. HBK Sports offers popular small group trips which are good for adults and older kids. Snorkeling is also an option, but any kind of splashing (even vigorous fin kicking) will scare away the leopards. For a bit further back but kid-friendly viewing, try in front of the Marine Room restaurant at the La Jolla Beach & Tennis Club, one of the prime viewing spots. The Beach & Tennis club is also a great option for family accommodations.