3 Best Spots to Find Leopard Sharks in La Jolla
The best way to swim with sharks in La Jolla is by snorkeling out to their favorite spots. During the summer season, the leopard shark population along the San Diego coastline explodes. Unlike huge tiger sharks, the beautiful leopard sharks are only a few feet long and typically harmless. Thousands of these beautiful creatures arrive, many females and ready to give birth. Nutrient-rich kelp forests and diverse reefs provide a fantastic food supply. The warm, protected waters of the La Jolla inlet are usually quite calm, so ideal for pupping and as a nursery. Often found in less than ten feet of water, this harmless species is easy to view from the ocean’s surface. Here we list the top sites to locate La Jolla leopard sharks and what to look for in each area.
#1 Marine Room Beach
The best spot to find the La Jolla leopard sharks is from the Marine Room beach. This site, in a secluded strip of the ocean, is about a mile south of Scripps Pier on the east end of the marine park. Once you enter the water, begin heading to the west, away from the shoreline. Soon you should start to see the 4 to 5-foot beauties schooling near the sand at depths of 5 to 15 feet. As night hunters, the adults spend their days lounging or swimming over the sandy flats. Also common to this area of La Jolla are stingrays, guitarfish, and California halibut. Keep your eyes peeled in the summer months for the beautiful black bat rays.
#2 Leopard Sharks Lane
Stretching from the south side of the Marine Room all the way to Devils Slide is The Lane. Start by heading south past the seawall and the beautiful homes. Here the sandy bottom changes to rock. The seagrass covered rocky reef is a favorite birthing area for the females. Pregnant for almost 11 months the moms can have up to 30 pups in each litter. If you’re lucky, you may even spot a baby measuring less than 10 inches and super cute! This reef is also home to colorful fish including wrasse, surfperch, and Garibaldi. This area of La Jolla’s ocean sanctuary gets very dangerous during large surf. Be sure to explore the lane under the guidance of an expert.
#3 Devil’s Slide Reef
Nestled below the towering cliffs in the southeast corner of the La Jolla marine park is Devil’s Slide. Due to its distance from any access point, this site is quite challenging for snorkelers to reach. By autumn a few hundred of the remaining sharks will move to this secluded location. These guys will remain in the La Jolla inlet throughout the next year. This species loves to swim in the surf line or a few meters outside the wave breaks so this area is ideal. Hunting in groups, over the next few months they will feed on squid, small fish, worms, and eggs. The submerged reef is also a preferred spot to find spiny lobster and octopus.
6 Helpful Sharks Snorkeling Tips
- Avoid stingrays, always shuffle your feet in the sand when walking into La Jolla’s ocean.
- Most of the adults are outside the wave break but still in less than 10 feet of water.
- These beauties love swimming near the seabed, keep looking down.
- Lay still on the surface and let them come to you. Don’t chase these creatures.
- Never try to touch them. This species is very docile but will react when scared or threatened.
- No snorkeling gear? Many days you can view the La Jolla leopard sharks if you wade into knee-deep water and look down.