Thousands of Sharks Are Having Spring Break In South Florida

Thousands of Sharks Are Having Spring Break In South Florida

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  If you've basked in the sun off the beaches of South Florida this winter, you may have had an interesting view. Beachgoers have been seeing a smattering of black dots spread throughout the coastline, beaches and waters. These dots aren't rocks or fish. The spotted waters reflect thousands of blacktip sharks that have migrated down south to enjoy the warm Florida waters too. Florida Atlantic University Biology professor, Stephen Kajiura, and his students have been documenting this shark migration and posting some stunning photos online. The startling footage has been shared thousands of times on social media and national news outlets. One incredible photo shows a lone paddle boarder approaching what looks like an army of the toothy creatures. Bet he had quite the shock!
sharks Photo Credit: Source
But what are the sharks doing there? Did they decide to join all the college students for spring break and enjoy the warm weather? Well, sorta. Professor Kajiura notes that this migration phenomenon is nothing new. Since 2011, Kajiura and his students have been studying the species' migration patterns and conducting weekly aerial surveys of the Atlantic coast. They start in December, when the sharks arrive, and usually finish when the sharks move north in April.
sharks Photo Credit: Source
Professor Kajiura is used to the constant stream of questions from reporters every year curious about what the creatures are doing there. Why are the sharks there? How long will they stay to enjoy the warm Floridian waters? And do they plan to work on their tan and play some volleyball with the other spring breakers?   Professor Kajiura and his marine biology students have been busy this winter tracking the movement patterns of the blacktip sharks. The research team have already placed transmitters on five sharks and plan to follow at least 25 more this migration season.
sharks Photo Credit: Source
Research reveals that the sharks typically don't go any further north than the Carolinas. Those that do are usually strays that got caught in the gulf stream. However, some of the sharks have been seen as far north as Long Island this year, and not by accident. Professor Kajiura concludes that this could be a result of global warming and climate change. The very strange warm winter we have been having this year could also explain why the sharks have showed up later than normal. Usually, the blacktips arrive around mid-January, but Kajiura's team didn't begin to capture photos of the migration until February. Turns out these creatures enjoy warm Florida waters around the same time as the rest of us travelers.
sharks Photo Credit: Source
But what does this mean for all the beach-goers and Spring Breakers who are trying to enjoy their vacation? No one wants to worry about being a part of a Jaws remake! People often ask whether the blacktip sharks are deadly. "These sharks are not out to get you," Kajiura assures us. "For the most part, I would emphasize, there are a lot of sharks and relatively few bites." The professor also noted that swimmers should be aware that the sharks aren't going anywhere for a while. His team will continue to track the species for further information. With that being said, we may have some Sharks Gone Wild moments to look forward to this spring.
 

H/T- Tampa Bay Times, CBS News

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