The leopard sharks are back.
The sharks spawn annually in the shallow waters off La Jolla Shores. Hundreds of them were seen just a few steps from the beach on Tuesday afternoon. Lucky beach-goers snorkled with them or peered down at them from kayaks and boogie boards.
Leopard sharks, whose annual migration takes them from the coast of Southern California to the northern bays, are distinctively marked with dark brown spots on a silvery gray background, which resembles a leopard print.
The sharks, which are slim and have small mouths that are used to suck up invertebrates on the ocean floor, are harmless. Although they have small teeth, they swallow their food whole, without chewing. They feed on animals that live in mud and sand, including worms and crabs.