Sharks play an essential rol in the health of our oceans


Why do sharks come close to the shore?

Many people think, that certain shark species are coming close to the shores and beaches to look for people and that this is recent behavior. As with salmon, geese, and other animals, many sharks also migrate. Whether sharks migrate or not depends to a large degree on temperature and seasonal changes, reproduction, and food sources. People have never been on the menu of sharks, but are in their way more often.

The number of bathers and surfers is still increasing: people have more free time, go in the water more often, surfers stay in longer because of suits which isolate a lot better than the ‘old’ suits. These days, most surfers are in the water on a regular basis, year-round.

Juvenile blacktip sharks often hang out near beaches (picture by Peter Verhoog, Dutch Shark Society)













This week brought a lot of news coverage about migration sharks near Florida. Some people have called this ‘mysterious’, but it is not.

Dr. Stephen Kajiura, an associate professor of biology at Florida Atlantic University, researches shark migration and has been monitoring sharks across Palm Beach County since 2011.
‘Coming into March, we’re getting tens of thousands of sharks close to shore,’ he said. ‘In one flight from the Boca Raton Inlet to the Jupiter Inlet, we counted over 15,000 sharks less than 200 yards from shore.’

In Australia, young white sharks regularly hang out near beaches. Expert Barry Bruce has never seen as many juvenile great whites in one location as on isolated stretch of beach near Port Stephens, off the central coast of Nort South Wales. His team has been tagging sharks there for several years now. You can read more about this fascinating research on:

In South Africa, the great white sharks migrate to the inshore area in summer (December), and come close to many popular beaches, where appointed shark spotters keep watch and warn people to leave the water if a shark comes in close. This also depends on water temperature.

But sharks also follow their prey. In the US, great white sharks reach the northernmost parts of their range in summer. Along the eastern Pacific ocean, this area extends up to the southern Alaskan islands. In early spring, the sharks have returned to the coast of California. In April, they arrive at the Farallon Islands and Ano Nuevo Island off the coast of the San Francisco Bay to feed on seals. In mid to late April the sharks migrate to the Channel Islands off the coast of Los Angeles, to have their pups, and in May, the sharks return to Ano Nuevo and the Farallons to feed on elephant seal pups that were born in the early spring.

This behavior of sharks is normal, and has not changed during our times. The sharks have always been there, and it is our responsibility to keep out of their way.

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