A shark swimming near Coquina Beach prompted a purple flag alert Saturday afternoon that temporarily cleared swimmers from the water.
Members of the Todd Czaja family of Manatee and formerly Connecticut, who are Bradenton Herald readers, shared photos of their sighting of what they believed to be a bull shark, estimated at 9 feet long, as it cruised past the beach at about 1 p.m. on a balmy December Saturday.
“Just a note that it was a bull shark attack in New Jersey that inspired the book and movie ‘Jaws,’” Czaja noted in an email to the newspaper.
Lifeguard Chelsea Hart said the shark was spotted in the water just south of the first pier on Coquina Beach. Swimmers between Tower 2 and Tower 7 were ordered out of the water for about 25 minutes as a precaution until the shark left the area.
“He was just cruising,” Hart said.
Lifeguards were unable to confirm the specific breed of the shark.
In her three years working on the beaches here, she said, it was the first time she had seen a shark swim between the buoys and the shore.