Lone shark sighting temporarily closes OB beach

ORANGE BEACH, Ala. (WALA) – Things were fairly calm along the waters of Cotton Bayou when we stopped by Sunday afternoon, but the beach was deserted for about an hour earlier when the double red flags were flying.

“We came down a little bit before three o’clock this afternoon expecting to have a day afternoon at the beach. And the double red flags were flying and the lifeguards were keeping everyone out of the water,” Heather Kimbrel, a Foley resident, said.

Turns out a six-foot shark decided to pay a visit to the beach as well.

“The lifeguard said that there were some boats pretty close in fishing. We have fishing that goes on at Four Seasons Pier all the time and there were a couple of fish carcasses that floated up. So I’m sure that the shark was in the area just looking for something to eat,” Melvin Shepard, beach safety supervisor for Orange Beach, said.

Shepard said the shark was patrolling the waters around waste deep, which is fairly close to the shore at Cotton Bayou.

“Today, the waters were closed for roughly an hour before we reopened them to swimmers. So again, when you come to the beach, just be cautious of what’s going on around you and keep an eye out,” Shepard said.

By the time they brought the flags back to yellow status, Kinbrel said she felt perfectly safe bringing her kids into the water.

“They weren’t letting anyone go in the water until they did change the flags. So I felt safe. They were looking after everyone on the beach, the lifeguards were here, so I felt comfortable going in once they said all was clear,” Kimbrel said.

Beach safety supervisors remind everyone coming down to the beach this summer to pay attention to the warning flags before they get in the water. They’re there to help keep people aware of both rip current risks and, every now and again, shark risks.

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