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Every summer, America turns its attention towards the sea, and more specifically, the sharks that inhabit it. This year, there seems to be an increase in shark sightings, but contrary to popular fear, this might be a cause for celebration rather than alarm.
Source: Discovery Canada/YouTube
Experts suggest that the rise in shark sightings indicates a revival of shark populations that had been on a dramatic decline due to overfishing and habitat destruction. Now, thanks to various Conservation efforts put in place over the last few decades, these magnificent creatures are making a steady comeback. According to Dr. Bob Hueter, chief scientist for OCEARCH, this is a sign of ecological balance being restored in our oceans.
But does an increase in shark numbers mean our beaches are more dangerous? Experts say no. The risk of a shark bite remains exceptionally low, with the average global unprovoked shark bite incidents standing at about 76 annually. Despite increased shark populations and warmer temperatures attracting more beachgoers, the rate of shark bites has not seen an increase.
A study conducted by the Shark Lab at California State University, Long Beach found that people and sharks often swim peacefully within close proximity of each other, without any conflict. Their two-year study, which used drones to monitor 26 southern California beaches, reported no instances of shark bites.
The key to coexisting with these misunderstood creatures lies in understanding their behavior and habitat. Drones and other technological tools can help identify shark locations and inform beachgoers. Furthermore, adopting individual safety measures such as staying in clear water and avoiding areas with schools of jumping fish can help prevent accidental encounters.
As Dr. Hueter suggests, we need to recalibrate our understanding of the ocean. It’s an ecosystem teeming with life, and the presence of more sharks is an indicator of its health. So, rather than fearing these creatures, we should welcome them as a sign of an improving oceanic environment. A shark sighting can be considered a rare and exciting event, a testament to the resilience of nature, and our efforts in its preservation.
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