This site has limited support for your browser. We recommend switching to Edge, Chrome, Safari, or Firefox.


The Lineup

Seth Willingham


Behind the Shot

Between June and the end of September or beginning of October, thousands of leopard sharks migrate to the warm shallow waters of La Jolla Shores, just north of San Diego. Visitors there simply wade out into the water—knee- or hip-high is far enough—for an up-close and personal shark encounter. Although they are harmless to humans, it can still be unnerving to be surrounded by these 3- to-5-foot-long predators.

Seth recalls the day this photo was taken. “I went down to shoot leopard sharks, which were swimming and feeding about 200 feet south of where this photo was taken. I’d researched conditions ahead of time—best month, best time of year to come—to nail the leopard shark shots. The water was so clear, and conditions were calm in the water. These surfers caught my attention. The sharks definitely come into this depth—right with the surfers. Fortunately leopard sharks are a lot like catfish, and unless you’re dangling a fish in front of them, they are fine. You can totally swim or surf with them around you.”