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Miami’s Close Encounters With Sharks: They May Be Closer Than You Think

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Sharks May Be Closer Than You Think

Regardless of city coastal air pollution, sharks, together with bull, nurse, and nice hammerhead, are steadily discovered close to cities like Miami. This habits might expose them to well being dangers but in addition provides insights into lowering human-shark conflicts. Credit score: JMac / Jason McIntosh

In contrast to large land predators, the ocean’s high predators don’t keep away from city areas.

The world’s coastlines are quickly urbanizing, however how this elevated human presence could impression species residing within the ocean will not be absolutely understood. In a brand new examine led by scientists on the College of Miami (UM) Rosenstiel Faculty of Marine and Atmospheric Science, researchers tracked the actions of three shark species, bull, nurse, and nice hammerhead, in relation to the town of Miami. Given the chemical, mild, and noise air pollution emanating from the coastal metropolis, researchers anticipated sharks to keep away from areas near the town, however that’s not what they discovered.

Researchers Release Acoustically Tagged Nurse Shark

Researchers launch an acoustically tagged nurse shark into waters off Miami, Florida, to research shark residency patterns in relation to coastal urbanization. Credit score: Robbie Roemer

Animal Variations to City Environments

Some animals, similar to pigeons and racoons, thrive in cities. These species, often known as “city exploiters,” typically grow to be depending on human rubbish for meals. Different animals, often known as “city adapters,” could present some use of urbanized areas, however nonetheless largely depend on pure areas. However, some species similar to land predators similar to wolves are very delicate to human disturbance. These “city avoiders” keep away from large cities.

“Few research have investigated the actions of ocean predators in relation to urbanization, however since different research have proven that land predators are city avoiders, we anticipated sharks to be too,” mentioned Neil Hammerschlag, director of the UM Shark Analysis and Conservation Program and lead writer of the examine. “We had been shocked to seek out that the sharks we tracked spent a lot time close to the lights and sounds of the busy metropolis, typically near shore, irrespective of the time of day.” The researchers concluded that the behaviors of the tracked sharks resembled that of “city adapters”. The examine speculates sharks might be drawn to shore from land-based actions, such because the discarding of fish carcasses.

An awesome hammerhead exploring the shallows off Miami Seaside cruises beneath a swimmer. Credit score: JMac / Jason McIntosh

Implications for Sharks and People

The comparatively excessive use of urban-impacted areas by the tracked sharks could have penalties for each sharks and people. “By spending a lot time near shore, sharks are susceptible to publicity to poisonous pollution in addition to fishing, which might impression their well being and survival,” mentioned Hammerschlag. Whereas shark bites on people are uncommon, the examine additionally pinpoints areas near shore that might be averted by human water customers to cut back likelihood of a unfavourable shark encounter, selling human-shark coexistence.

Reference: “City Sharks: Residency patterns of marine high predators in relation to a coastal metropolis” by Neil Hammerschlag, Lee F. G. Gutowsky, Mitchell J. Rider, Robert Roemer and Austin J. Gallagher, 16 June 2022, Marine Ecology Progress Sequence.
DOI: 10.3354/meps14086

 The examine’s authors embody: Neil Hammerschlag, Mitchell Rider from the UM Rosenstiel Faculty, and Robbie Roemer, from Ocearch; Austin J. Gallagher from Beneath the Waves; and Lee Gutowsky from Trent College.

 This analysis was funded by means of help from the Ocean Monitoring Community, the Disney Conservation Fund, the Save Our Seas Basis, the Nationwide Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Southeast Fisheries Science Heart, the Batchelor Basis, the Herbert W. Hoover Basis, Ruta Maya Espresso, the Worldwide Seakeepers Society, and thru a grant ‘Implementing a Marine Biodiversity Statement Community (MBON) in South Florida to Advance Ecosystem-Primarily based Administration’ funded beneath the Nationwide Oceanographic Partnership Program (NOPP, RFP ONR BAA #N00014-18-S-B007, in partnership with NOAA, BOEM, and NASA) and the US Built-in Ocean Observing System (IOOS) Program Workplace.

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