A blue shark whose presence in shallow waters off the coast of Mallorca caused panic over the weekend and led to the evacuation of beaches on the Balearic island, has been captured.
The animal was first spotted on Saturday as it swam close to the beaches at Cala Major and Can Pastilla, near the Mallorcan capital of Palma. Pictures showed the shark gliding through the water a few metres from bathers, who dashed to the safety of the shore.
Lifeguards raised the red flag, ordered swimmers out of the water and closed the beach after the sighting. Experts in motorboats then conducted a search of the area to try to find the shark.
By Sunday afternoon it had been located and captured. A local paper, the Diario de Mallorca, reported that the shark had been found with a serious head wound, apparently caused by a harpoon.
It was not clear if the shark was injured before or after it was spotted near the beach. Specialists from the Palma aquarium said the shark appeared to be dying and they were considering whether it should be killed.
One witness posted an account of the beach incident on Facebook. “Everyone out of the water!” she wrote. “The lifeguards were shouting that the red flag had been raised here on the Cala Major beach and that there were three sharks – the smallest of which was a metre-and-a-half long.”
She added: “What a pity that they have to come so close because we’re destroying their ecosystem and they have to survive.”
Blue sharks, which can measure up to 3.8 metres and normally feed on fish and squid, have been known in rare incidents to circle divers and attack people. In July 2016 one of the animals was blamed for biting the hand of a man who was swimming off the Costa Blanca in south-east Spain.
According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, the shark is hunted for food and its fins are used for shark fin soup.