San Juan Capistrano
Golfers may be accustomed to ducking an errant golf ball or two, but no one at a southern California golf course remembers having to be on the lookout for sharks falling from the sky.
That was exactly what happened at the San Juan Hills Golf Course when a 2-foot-long leopard shark was spotted on the 12th tee.
Melissa McCormack, Director of Operations at the golf course, said the shark was found by an on-duty course marshal around 4:00 p.m. on Monday. She told The Capistrano Dispatch:
“It was just wriggling around. Honestly, this is the weirdest thing that’s happened here.”
The shark was reportedly bleeding from puncture wounds near the dorsal fin. Officials believe a predatory bird plucked the shark out of the ocean, which is located some 5 miles away, and dropped the fish on the golf course.
When the course marshal found the shark, he immediately took it to the clubhouse, placed it in a bucket of water, added some sea salt and transported it to the nearby ocean for release.
Bryan Stizer, an employee at the golf course, thought the shark was already dead, telling The Capistrano Dispatch “When I dropped him into the water, he just lied there for a few seconds, but then he did a twist and shot off into the water.”
Leopard sharks are commonly found in shallow waters of both ocean and bay environments. According to WTVR, scientists stated it is not uncommon for predatory birds like osprey and peregrine falcons to prey on fish in the shallow waters of the area.
Julianne Steers, chief aquarist at the Ocean Institute in Dana Point, told the LA Times:
"I have seen peregrine falcons and we do have ospreys. Between the two of those, ospreys are probably more frequent. Those are the only two that would've had the strength."