Shark Sightings and Attacks Are Forcing Northeast Beaches to Take Action
© AP Photo / Schalk van ZuydamIn this Thursday, Aug. 11, 2016, file photo, the fin of a great white shark is seen swimming a past research boat in the waters off Gansbaai, South Africa.
© AP Photo / Schalk van Zuydam
According to the Florida Museum of Natural History, the yearly average of unprovoked shark attacks is 70 worldwide, with an average of five ending fatally. They recommend not wearing shiny jewelry or clothes while in the ocean, as they can be mistaken for fish scales.
More than 20 white shark sightings were reported off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, over the weekend, with an additional 12 more sightings on Monday and Tuesday.
This comes after six shark attacks occurred over a three-week period off the coast of Long Island, New York, last month. Those attacks prompted Governor Kathy Hochul to implement a shark warning system and increase surveillance for sharks in the area.
Prior to this year, only six “unprovoked” shark bites had occurred in the state of New York in its history. Unprovoked attacks are defined as times when humans are bit by sharks in the shark’s natural habitat without provocation by the human. Provoked attacks are when the human initiates contact with the shark, like when trying to remove them from a fishing hook or net.
Warming ocean waters, an increase in seals along the coast of New England, improving water quality, and the revival of bunker fish populations in the area have been cited as possible causes of the increase in shark sightings and bites.
Sharks typically shy away from humans and they do not often feast on human flesh. It is believed that most shark attacks happen when the fish mistake humans for other prey, like seals, or when the shark feels threatened.
Still, authorities say that the risk remains low for beachgoers. People are far more likely to die from dog attacks or lightning strikes than they are in a shark attack. Considering the millions of people who swim in the ocean every day, and how rare shark attacks are even with the recent increase, humans are a far greater threat to sharks than the other way around.