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Small jaws cruise South Whidbey waters

" Amanda Malmgren, 6, bravely hoists a live mudshark.Jim Larsen / staff photoHey kids, why don't you go out and play with the sharks?Overwrought island parents no doubt fantasize about asking this question, but last Friday at Sunlight Beach it was a real possibility.Well over 100 mudsharks, also known as dogfish, were temporarily stranded in tide pools when the tide went out, and they were the talk of the community for hours.There were sharks in the front yard of the people who live in the waterfront community on Useless Bay. Nadine and David Malmgren, a Seattle couple, were staying in a house located on the Sunlight Beach dike. They looked out at low tide Friday morning and saw fins -- lots of them. The fins were attached to mudsharks restlessly swimming around their shallow pools, looking for a way out.Nadine Malmgren said that in front of their house, there were two large pools with an estimated 75 mudsharks swimming about in each. The pools were only six inches deep and the sharks were readily accessible.The Malmgrens' dog, Homer, barked at the sharks and ran around in circles, throwing saltwater spray through the air, while a number of children and adults waded in the pools with the sharks. At first they were tentative about being so close to the 2- to-3-foot-long sharks, but after a while they relaxed.It's just fascinating, said Nadine Malmgren. They're more afraid of us than we are of them. Her husband picked one up by the tail and it didn't seem to mind when their eldest daughter, Amanda, took it off his hands. When Amanda hoisted the 10-pound specimen it was almost as long as she was.Men, women and children waded with the sharks, and nobody lost a toe. The theory was that the sharks chased a school of baitfish near the shore and were stranded when the tide receded.By 11 a.m. the tide was returning and the sharks wasted no time retreating to deeper water. The kids were disappointed, but will long remember the time they played with sharks in their front yard. "

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