- Current shark bites in Hawaii, Florida and a suspected case in New Jersey elevate questions concerning water security.
- There have been solely 57 unprovoked bites final yr worldwide, and 5 of these have been deadly.
- Scientists say doubtlessly harmful interactions between people and sharks are unusual, and critical accidents and deaths from the bites are vanishingly uncommon.
Current shark bites in Florida and Hawaii and a suspected case in New Jersey have piqued curiosity in an age-old summer season query for beachgoers — is it secure to go within the water?
Scientists and researchers who research sharks mentioned the overwhelming reply to that query is sure, it’s secure. Probably harmful interactions between people and sharks are unusual, and critical accidents and deaths from the bites are vanishingly uncommon, scientists mentioned.
Nonetheless, the dramatic nature of shark bites and the tales of survivors, equivalent to Hawaii surfer Mike Morita’s story of combating off a shark in April, seize the creativeness. It is a good suggestion to recollect simply how uncommon shark bites actually are, scientists mentioned.
How usually do shark bites happen?
There have been usually round 70 to 80 unprovoked shark bites yearly, worldwide, over the previous decade. And never solely are shark bites uncommon, they have been particularly uncommon not too long ago.
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There have been solely 57 unprovoked bites final yr, and 5 of these have been deadly, in accordance with College of Florida’s Worldwide Shark Assault File. There had been 9 such deaths the earlier yr.
The shark assault file reported a yr in the past that one motive for the decline in bites could be be the worldwide decline of shark populations.
It is too early within the heat season to get an thought of how lively this yr will likely be for interactions between people and sharks, mentioned Greg Skomal, a shark skilled with the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries.
“If we get numerous bait fish and forage fish species near shore, we have now a brilliant sizzling summer season that attracts individuals to seashores, extra individuals within the water, then we will decide the danger,” Skomal.
What are essentially the most susceptible areas for shark encounters?
The US and Australia are usually the websites of essentially the most reported shark bites. Florida had extra bites than wherever else on Earth final yr with 16 unprovoked bites, two of which resulted in amputations, the shark assault file mentioned.
This month, two Florida fishermen have been bitten by sharks in separate incidents lower than 36 hours aside.
The speed of shark bites has stayed regular lately, but it surely may really feel like a extra widespread incidence due to the prevalence of smartphones, mentioned Nick Whitney, a senior scientist on the New England Aquarium in Boston. Not too long ago developed smartphone apps enable customers to report shark sightings in actual time.
What sort of sharks are trigger for concern?
White sharks, bull sharks and tiger sharks are the sharks most cited by the Worldwide Shark Assault File for unprovoked bites. These species are massive sharks that additionally trigger essentially the most fatalities.
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Nevertheless, it is price taking into account that many interactions with sharks are with smaller species which can be unlikely to trigger critical accidents, mentioned James Sulikowski, director of the Coastal Oregon Marine Experiment Station at Oregon State College. These species may chew a human, notice we’re not their most popular prey and transfer on, he mentioned.
Is it secure to swim?
Sure. You are at exponentially higher danger of getting damage in a automobile accident on the way in which to the seashore than you might be to get critically injured by a shark chew.
Thousands and thousands of individuals flock to the seashore in the summertime because the climate heats up, and that raises the potential for interacting with a shark. However by taking easy precautions, equivalent to not carrying shiny objects into the water and never swimming at daybreak and nightfall, beachgoers can cut back any likelihood of a harmful encounter with a shark, Sulikowski mentioned.
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“We’re intruders of their setting. What we will do is be logical and secure about that and keep away from areas the place sharks are going to be feeding,” Sulikowski mentioned. “When an interplay happens, it is mistaken identification — we’re in an space the place a shark is trying to eat.”