SHARK TERROR ON HOLS ISLE BEACH; TOO CLOSE THIRD SIGHTING IN MONTH; Hundreds of Majorca tourists sent running for the shore after creature brushes against woman swimmer's arm.
Byline: NICOLA BARTLETT firstname.lastname@example.org
FRIGHTENED tourists in the sea off Majorca ran for the beach yesterday after the third shark sighting on the holiday island in less than a month.
The alarm was raised after the shark brushed against a woman swimmer, injuring her arm with its rough skin.
Lifeguards on the Estanys beach at Colonia de Sant Jordi in the south of the island quickly raised red warning flags.
They ordered all swimmers out of the water and alerted nearby beaches to the threat.
Horrified familes rushed back to the safety of the shore, and hundreds of holidaymakers were left standing on the sand as the sea emptied.
The lifeguards went into the water with an aqua scooter to try to drive the shark out to sea but it disappeared towards a nearby cove.
Experts believe it was a blue shark, the same species involved in the two previous Majorca sightings in recent weeks.
Police and the military were scrambled to search for the predator and experts from Palam aquarium were called in.
Officials said the woman the shark brushed against was only slightly hurt. They stressed that the creature did not attack her.
Scientists believe hot weather and tides could be bringing sharks closer to the beaches of Majorca.
But they suspect that the animal involved in yesterday's incident, which was believed to be a female, got so close to the shore because she was disorientated or sick.
More than 2.2million British tourists per year go on holiday to Majorca.
The first alert on the island this summer came on June 25, when holidaymakers near the busy resort of Magaluf spotted an 8ft shark swimming close to children a few feet from the shore.
The sighting caused panic on Cala Major beach between Magaluf and Palma, but the shark was found to be desperately ill.
Lifeguards pulled it from the water and experts tried to save it but it had to be put to sleep. Reports that the shark posed no threat didn't stop panic spreading across the island. Frightened British tourists flocked on to social media to say they were too terrified to go swimming.
The second sighting came on July 9, when a tourist spotted a blue shark in the water off Cala Major.
He called the emergency services and the Civil Guard began a major search, but no trace of the shark was found.
Blue sharks can grow to more than 13ft long and are usually found in the deep open ocean.
They eat octopus, squid, mackerel, tuna, lobsters, crabs and even smaller sharks and seabirds. They sometimes co-operate with one another to hunt prey, and are known to scavenge on the corpses of whales.
The blue shark is spread more widely around the world than any other species.
They have attacked humans, but there were only 32 documented attacks, and four human deaths, between 1580 and 2010. More than 10million blue sharks are killed by humans every year.
OFF COURSE Blue sharks normally live the deep ocean
SAFE ON THE SAND Tourists fled to the beach after shark alert