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Fla. Sharks Spotted Heading South

August 16, 2001

ANCLOTE KEY, Fla. (AP) _ A large gathering of sharks that had congregated in the waters off central Florida’s west coast have moved out of the area.

Hundreds of sharks, some up to 10 feet long, were first spotted Monday three miles offshore, prompting officials to issue an alert to swimmers.

Most were blacktips, a common species often blamed for nipping surfers and swimmers, but not regarded as a man-eater. Bull sharks, hammerheads and nurse sharks were also sighted by sheriff’s marine patrols in the shallow Gulf of Mexico waters off Pasco County, northwest of Tampa.

By Wednesday, the brief invasion was over. They were spotted heading south by a crew from Mote Marine Laboratory.

``The thing that really caught my attention was that there were several species,″ marine biologist Bill Alevizon said. ``Species tend to move alone.″

Blacktips are known to move from the Gulf of Mexico back into the Atlantic Ocean about this time of year, said Mote spokeswoman Teri Behling.

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