Shark sightings force closure of Japanese beaches
Nine beaches were closed along the coast of Ibaraki prefecture in Japan on Thursday (August 6) after two sharks appeared near a spot favoured by surfers, local media said.
Located about 130 kilometres north of Tokyo, police helicopters spotted on Wednesday (August 5) what they said were possibly two sandbar sharks swimming near surfers off Hokota beach.
On Thursday (August 6), the beaches were closed at 8am (2300GMT August 5) with local authorities warning people not to approach the shores. An official at local Ibaraki aquarium, Aqua World, said sandbar sharks are considered harmless but could mistake humans for food as they chase fish shoals.
Police said the two sharks were believed to be four metres long as they appeared 65 feet away from the shore.
Ibaraki prefecture officials said so far no injuries had been reported due to the sharks but that beaches would remain closed for the moment.
Aquarium officials said sandbar sharks are not native to these waters but commons in the warmer southern seas near Okinawa.