Covering Louisiana

Aug 23, 2014 7:02 PM by AP

Shark warnings go up in community near lake

SLIDELL, La. (AP) - A warning sign at the front of the Eden Isles neighborhood near Slidell offers an alert to what may be lurking in the canals that surround this community on Lake Pontchartrain.

WWL-TV reported the signage and a memo posted at the homeowners association website warn that bull sharks have been spotted in the canals connecting the boating community to the lake.

The warning came a couple of weeks after a 7-year-old boy was bitten while swimming in the lake. A bull shark is believed to have been the attacker. The child's injuries were not life-threatening.

Experts say the sharks generally stay in the lake through the summer and move back to the Gulf when the water starts to cool in the fall.

"I've been here just about 30 years and the most I've ever seen back there is maybe a three foot alligator," said resident Joe Burton. "I've never seen anything like this in the canal."

Lake Pontchartrain is a brackish mix of fresh and salt water and connects to the Gulf of Mexico through the Chef Menteur and Rigolets passes. Its eastern sections - near Eden Isles in St. Tammany Parish - are predominantly salty waters that draw in foodfish, dolphins and sharks from the Gulf. Manatees have been seen at times in the lake, presumably wandering in from Florida coastal waters.

The warning to the neighborhood included asking residents to careful about feeding any life in the water and being mindful of what's on their fishing line when they reel it in.

Many residents say the heads-up is appreciated, but they don't plan to let the sharks change their lifestyle.

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