It may not be good news for people who have been frightened by Jaws one too many times, but environmentalists have reason to rejoice as a shark population boom on the southeast coast hints at a possible recovery in their numbers.
It is perhaps known by many that sharks have been given an awful reputation due to movies and their general position as the top of the food chain within the waters, but they are also an essential part of their ecosystem, and their disappearance may cause a severe disturbance in balance and health of our oceans.
One third of all open water species are considered endangered and now face extinction, and many are killed due to accidental capturing in fishing boats nets. They are highly vulnerable to the concept of complete disappearance, due to their nature-given process of reproduction and growth.
According to Karyl Brewster-Geisz from the National Oceanic and Atmosphere Administration (NOAA), sharks “grow very slowly, reproduce late in life and have only a few offspring”, which makes it highly difficult for their population to see an improvement in competition with the millions that are killed each year.
However, according to the U.S. Coastal Shark Survey, numbers are indeed improving along the coasts from Florida to North Carolina, and are seeing an excellent blooming in population since the program started back in 1986.
The coastal survey runs along part of the southeastern coast, and has captured and tagged a number of 1,831 sharks in 2012. However, since the study is not an yearly event, it was only now that they observed an increase in the population of sharks that brings hope to their possible recovery.
In 2015, the survey found a whopping 2,835 sharks swimming along the shores from Florida to North Carolina, which is the largest number found in the program’s history. It’s a vast achievement that hints to a slow climb back and hopeful prospects for the ecosystem.
The more common species caught this year were Sandbar sharks, Atlantic sharpnose, dusky, and tiger sharks, along with the more rare capture of a bull shark for the first time since 2001. So, if you happen to notice more sharks this year, it’s definitely not just in your head.
Of course, with the news of more sharks also comes the report of a record number of shark attacks this summer, as North Carolina has seen 8 unfortunate encounters, which is the most since the group started keeping track 80 years ago. Silver lining though is that there’s hope for their population yet.
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