At the San Juan Hills Golf Club in southern California, course hazards include sand traps and falling sharks.
Or they did on Monday (Oct. 22) afternoon, when a 2-foot-long, live leopard shark apparently plummeted from the sky and landed very close to the 12th tee box at the San Juan Capistrano, Calif., course.
The writhing fish out of water was discovered by an on-duty course marshal, who acted fast to save the shark, according to the Capistrano Dispatch.
He loaded it onto his golf cart and drove it back to the clubhouse, where other employees joined the cause to save the wayward animal. After briefly placing the shark in a bucket of homemade salt water, cart attendant Bryan Stizer used his break to drive the shark to the Pacific Ocean, about 4 miles (6.5 kilometers) away.
"I thought he was dead," Stizer told the Dispatch. "When I dropped him into the water, he just lied there for a few seconds, but then he did a twist and shot off into the water."
The shark, which reportedly had two bleeding wounds near its dorsal fin, is thought to have been dropped over the golf course by a predatory bird, though no one is known to have actually seen the shark fall.
Julianne Steers, chief aquarist at the Ocean Institute near the golf course, told the Dispatch that there are ospreys and peregrine falcons in the area that could have snatched the shark from shallow waters before losing hold of it.
Fish falling from the sky is not an unheard-of phenomenon. The downpours of fish and frogs reported throughout history and around the world have been attributed to strong winds that pick up aquatic animals and deposit them many miles inland.
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