Are there Sharks In Mallorca?
I don't know about you, but ever since Jaws, somewhere at the back of my mind this tiny voice speaks whenever I dip my big toe into sea water. Fins? See any triangles cruising along the buoy line? Frankly, swimming in deep waters gives me the shivers.
And now this.
Scientists cruising the Balearic waters aboard the Alinitak during a 2018 expedition, under the command of chief biologists Ricardo Sagarminaga Van Buiten, report a sighting of … yes: the Great White himself. Not just anywhere: it was seen, photographed, and videoed within the range of the Island Nature Reserve of Cabrera. That’s just off the east coast of Mallorca. A mere 16 kilometres from where I dip my toes (and, eventually, all the other parts of my dear body).
Will I be eaten alive?!
Let's look at the facts: sightings of sharks are rare. Those of Great Whites even rarer, although their presence in Spanish waters is well documented. They’ve been spotted off the coasts of Costa Brava, Levante, and Catalonia. But contrary to my overactive fears, the Great White does not pose a threat to humans. Only one fatal attack was ever recorded in the Balearics – over a hundred years ago. It happened in 1912, when the Governor of Cabrera fell into the water off the Isle of Cabrera and, well…
But isn't that exactly where this Great White was spotted?!
Since the Alinitak photo release on June 29th, two more sightings have been reported, one of which was off the south coast of Mallorca. In that video, the shark can be seen at close range, yet scientists gave the “All Clear.”
What was first thought to be one of the biggest predators of the sea actually sports some very fine, very large gills running from the top to the bottom of his head. It's a basking shark, one of three plankton-eating shark species! Despite their enormous size and threatening appearance, basking sharks are not aggressive and absolutely not interested in chewing on people.
A total of 47 different shark species populate the local waters. The basking shark is the second-largest living shark, measuring up to 10 metres. Only the whale shark is bigger, at up to 14 metres.
And the smallest one? It's the dwarf lantern shark and it fits in the palm of your hand.
Forty-seven species of sharks roam the Balearic waters. However, since only one fatal shark attack was ever reported around the islands, and it happened over a hundred years ago, you can relax. You are at much greater risk of getting a sunburn or sunstroke on one of Mallorca’s many beautiful Blue Flag beaches than you are of being eaten alive. The secret to staying safe? Make sure to wear a hat and use a good sunscreen!
By Vincent Steel
13 July, 2018