Surfers Swim for Safety, Escape Jaws of Massive Shark

by Maggie Schneider

A large shark chases surfers in Puerto Rico. While both surfers escape waters safely, locals panic at the sighting.

Surfers and locals are stunned after a massive shark is spotted in the waves of a beach in Puerto Rico. In shocking video footage, the two men paddle back to shore after spotting a large dorsal fin drawing near. Surfer Rolando Montes and his friend are just feet away from the shark. They are lucky to be alive.

The sight shocks locals. For many, this is the first time they have seen any type of shark in the Middles Beach, Isabela waters. Shark attacks in Puerto Rico are rare. In fact, the most recent incident report dates back to 2011.

An eyewitness is at the scene to record the incident. His name is Jorge Benitez. The film shows the short distance between the surfers and the shark’s dorsal fin.

“Although it’s known they are around the areas, apparently they have enough food so we barely have incidents if any,” Benitez says.

The visual evidence reminds beach lovers to take precautions when entering the waters.

Shark Conservation in Puerto Rico

While the media focuses on covering shark attacks, a few organizations focus on shark conservation. According to Forbes, “Global shark populations have been drastically plummeting due to a number of threats these animals face (such as overfishing and habitat destruction).” One place where scientists are focusing these conservation efforts is Puerto Rico. They house the country’s first shark research program, Conservación ConCiencia.

Puerto Rico has a diverse population of deep-sea creatures and vegetation. This is why its location is prime for learning about sharks and their environments. Dr. Robert Hueter is the Chief Scientist at OCEARCH. He explains the possibilities of what these programs can do.

“How Puerto Rico has stayed under the radar of the shark world for so long considering how much exciting work is waiting to be done here!” Hueter says.

The non-profit’s vision is an inspiring one. Its website states that they hope for “a world where nature can thrive, economies prosper and people flourish.”

With big dreams, more funding is necessary. There is a stigma surrounding Puerto Rico: as part of the United States, people think that non-profits like these are well-funded. This is not always the case.

“Many don’t realize that in the Caribbean so many local organizations on the ground have the capacity to do amazing conservation work but lack the access to conservation funding,” Hueter adds.

Pop culture phenomena like “Shark Week” do not begin to cover the efforts of shark conservation programs. With the help of local shark fishers and passionate scientists, Conservación ConCiencia hopes to protect the shark population and other marine life.