sharksOn a walk down Grand Canal Court on Feb. 5, Venice resident Sheena Duggal encountered an unexpected site in the waters of the Venice canals: four leopard sharks.

“When I saw them I did a double take. They were two or three feet long, maybe, swimming in two pairs. I thought they were sharks but I wasn’t sure, so I decided to take some pictures,” said Duggal, a Hollywood visual effects supervisor who promptly posted the images to Twitter.

Heal the Bay’s Santa Monica Pier Aquarium tweeted back that the post by Duggal, whose credits include “The Hunger Games” and “Iron Man 3,” are the first confirmation of scattered reports that leopard sharks had taken up residence in the canals.

Aquarium Operations Manager Jose Bacallao said the sharks must have entered Ballona Lagoon through tidal gates and passed through the culvert under Washington Boulevard to reach the canals, and they will likely leave the way they came before they get much larger.

“It’s an unusual thing to see — definitely a great treat,” he said.

Leopard sharks aren’t dangerous to humans but can grow to be about five feet long. The ones in the canals are likely feeding on crabs, small fish and might also be digging for worms, Bacallao said.

“When the ducks came by they got out of the way, which I thought was quite funny,” Duggal said.

— Joe Piasecki

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