A result of global warming?
Figures have just been released that detail the number of shark attacks reported worldwide for 2021. After 3-years of declining numbers it seems that attacks are on the increase again.
In 2021 there were 73 unprovoked attacks worldwide, up from just 52 in 2020 (which may have been artificially lowered due to stay-at-home orders during the pandemic).
Most significant within the report was that the U.S. accounted for 47 of these attacks, and 28 of these happened in waters surrounding Florida.
In other words, 40% of worldwide unprovoked attacks occurred in Florida. The only fatal U.S. attack happened off the California coast.
The statistics may not come as a shock, given the crystalline, warm waters off Florida. But there are suggestions that sharks may be moving further northwards, encouraged by warming waters caused by global warming.
Climate change may be to blame
Last summer, sharks were frequently spotted off the coast of Long Island, New York. While sharks are known to inhabit waters that far north at certain times of year, in July last year it was reported that 30 Great White sharks had been tagged off Long Island - something of an anomaly.
Blacktip Reef sharks were spotted close to the shore, forcing beaches to close - these creatures are more commonly sighted in the Caribbean. These sightings and the beach closures that follow seem like a consequence of global warming, since not only are the sharks themselves inclined to head further north, but also the shoals of fish that they prey-upon.
Stay safe in the water
The International Shark Attack File - an joint initiative of the University of Florida and the Florida Museum offers simple guidance to those wanting to remain safe in the water, including:
- Swim with a buddy
- Stay close to the shore
- Avoid swimming at dusk or dawn
- Don't swim around schools of fish or people who are fishing
Here's hoping that 2022 sees fewer unprovoked shark attacks in Floridas waters!
Have you had any close encounters with sharks in Florida's waters? Do you believe that global warming is making attacks more common? Let me know in the comments section below.