Dreaming of a Florida vacation? You’re not the only one.
Tens of thousands of blacktip sharks are gathering off Florida’s southeast coast, as documented in astonishing photos and video by researchers recording the sharks' seasonal migration to warmer water.
"There are literally tens of thousands of sharks a stone's throw away from our shoreline. You could throw a pebble and literally strike a shark. They are that close," Stephen Kajiura, the head of Florida Atlantic University's shark lab, told CBS12.
The sightings are primarily near Palm Beach.
While the news may not be especially welcoming to the area’s tourists, who are also flocking to the coastal communities to escape the cold, Kajiura and his team of researchers are having a field day studying the creatures.
“Successfully tagged 5 blacktip sharks with acoustic transmitters this morning. Great conditions -- water was calm, flat, clear, and loaded with sharks,” they posted to their Shark Migration Facebook page Saturday.
The caption of an aerial photo on their Instagram account reads: “Lucky paddle boarder (lower left) about to encounter hundreds of sharks.”
Blacktip sharks are known to attack people and are believed to be responsible for most of the shark attacks reported in the sunshine state. Fortunately, none of the attacks have been fatal, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.
Kajiura, who has been studying and documenting the sharks' location for the past several years, stressed that there have been “relatively few bites.”
“Even though we have this huge number of sharks -- tens of thousands of them immediately adjacent to shore here in South Florida -- we have relatively few bites,” he told the Palm Beach Daily News. “When you consider the number of people in the water and the number of sharks in the water you’d think there would be a lot of interaction.”
The FAU associate professor said his team is focusing their study on the blacktip sharks’ habitat.
“You have this large seasonal influx of these top-level predators, and they are going to have a dramatic impact on the local ecosystem,” he said.
The researchers also want to find out why the sharks appear to prefer Palm Beach County over other areas. So far in their research they’ve seen very few sharks south of this area and in Miami-Dade and Broward Counties.
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