Esther Forestandi of Bradenton recorded a shark in the surf at Siesta Public Beach on April 23, 2016. The video, posted on the Herald-Tribune Facebook page, has gone viral. STAFF PHOTO / CARLOS R. MUNOZ

Siesta Key shark video goes viral

A shark that made waves on social media after it was videotaped by Esther Forestandi of Bradenton trolling the waters near Siesta Key beach.

Forestandi’s video shows beach-goers walking out toward the shark while others were content to stand safely onshore near Siesta Key’s Access 7 beach entrance.

The video’s more than 71,000 views and 1,100 shares has made it the most popular video ever shared on the Herald-Tribune Media Group’s Facebook page.

Forestandi, a Zumba instructor and avid scuba diver, said she didn’t expect that kind of excitement for a shark.

“I heard people screaming and that caught my attention,” she said. “I ran to the water and saw people screaming ‘shark, shark.’

“He was the attraction, everyone taking pictures and videos.”

Some appeared brave enough to walk towards the fish but quickly retreated when he looked their way.

“What really caught my attention was people trying to be funny and crazy,” Forestandi said. “You need to respect the animals.”

Dr. Robert Hueter, Mote Director of the Center for Shark Research, said the tell-tale dorsal fin and tail of the shark are seen in the video but because it never poked its head out of the water he couldn’t identify its species. However it is more than likely a Great Hammerhead and he had no doubt Forestandi had recorded a shark with her phone.

The migratory shark has come to the Suncoast to feed, according to Hueter who said the area is rich in female tarpon loaded with eggs at this time of year. The sharks are more prevalent near Boca Grande, were tarpon are abundant, but many have been sighted along the barrier islands.

The Mote scientist said sharks in the water are something to be proud of.

“They are there and we should rejoice in this,” Hueter said. “This is a sign of a healthy ocean. If we had red tide you wouldn’t see this. If we had pollution and garbage on the beaches like some other areas you wouldn’t see this. This is the kind of thing you like to see.”

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