People who enter Florida’s waters to swim often do so in the company of sharks, but not necessarily thousands at once. That, however, has been the case lately as thousands of blacktip sharks hang out off of Palm Beach’s coast.
Every winter, thousands of these sharks migrate along the Atlantic coast in search of warmer waters to mate and give birth. “But this year they’re further north than usual, bringing them within 100 meters of the shoreline,” ScienceAlert explained.
“It’s not unusual, but it’s great to see them,” shark biologist Stephan Kajiura from Florida Atlantic University told ABC News. “There are literally tens of thousands of sharks a stone’s throw away from our shoreline,” he told CNN affiliate WPEC. “You could throw a pebble and literally strike a shark. They are that close.”
Kajiura is trying to find out why the sharks have stayed near the Palm Beach area this year, rather than continuing further south to the Miami-Dade and Ft. Lauderdale area. He’s also looking into why the sharks are a bit later than usual, as they typically show up in the area in mid-January.
“There’s speculation that this shift could be triggered by El Niño keeping the East Coast unseasonably warm at the end of last year, as well as ocean temperatures increasing further from the equator,” ScienceAlert said.
“One of the ideas may be that as they are getting south, if they are in a suitable habitat, then why not stay,” Kajiura said.