The Free Press, Mankato, MN

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October 25, 2012

Slate: Leopard shark hits hole in one

The Capistrano Dispatch is the leader in the clubhouse for the most bizarre story of the week: A live two-foot long leopard shark appears to have fallen from the sky on Monday and landed near the 12th tee on the San Juan Hills Golf Club in California.

The shark was discovered around 4 p.m. by an on-duty course marshal, who immediately called the clubhouse to report the displaced fish. "It was just wriggling around," Director of Club Operations Melissa McCormack said. "Honestly, this is the weirdest thing that's happened here."



The marshal picked up the shark, placed it in the back of his golf cart and drove it back to the clubhouse. There, cart attendant Bryan Stizer, a San Juan Capistrano resident, briefly placed the shark into a bucket filled with water and a bit of salt, before clocking out on his break to drive the shark out to Baby Beach in Dana Point, where it was released back into the ocean. "I thought he was dead," Stizer said. "When I dropped him into the water, he just lied their for a few seconds, but then he did a twist and shot off into the water."

McCormack has so far offered the best guess as to how the shark managed to get to the course from the Pacific Ocean, which is about four miles away: A predatory bird — most likely a peregrine falcon or an osprey — may have snatched it from the water and dropped it over the course. The supporting evidence for that theory is the puncture wounds on the fish the golf course staff reported.

Julianne Steers, the chief aquarist at the nearby Ocean Institute in Dana Point, told the paper that McCormack's theory was a good one, but suggested another possibility: The shark traveled by human hands. "I have heard and seen instances," she said, before adding: "You hate to think a human could do this." The supporting evidence for that theory? Well, people are weird.

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