If you're planning on escaping winter for a little Florida sun, you may have some company on the beach—approximately 10,000 to 12,000 blacktip sharks.
In an ariel video captured by Stephen Kajiura, a professor of biological sciences at Florida Atlantic University who researches the migrating sharks, the ocean is filled with tiny black dots hovering just off the shore for 80 miles, from Miami to Jupiter Inlet. Each of those dots is a blacktip shark. You can check it out on Instagram, too.
Much like your grandparents, the sharks migrate to Florida every winter and for much the same reason—to bask in the warm coastal waters and pig out on the fresh local fish.
In an interview with Live Science, Kajiura said that the current estimate of finned visitors is probably "a gross underestimate" of how many sharks actually are lurking in the ocean, because it only includes the ones that are visible in the shallow waters. "We see lots more sharks on the other side of the plane, so there's a lot more out there that we're simply not counting in the survey," Kajiura said.
While the idea of thousands of feeding sharks sounds daunting (or at least a good excuse to stay inland and, say, finally visit Pittsburgh), shark researchers claim that tourists have nothing to worry about. According to Kajiura, "they're not curious types," and typically have little interest in people. Exercise common sense and perhaps avoid wearing reflective watches or jewelry (which might be mistaken for the sharks' prey) just to be sure.
Kajiura thinks the sharks are a great addition to the roster of activities that Florida has to offer tourists. "You can literally sit on the beach and you can watch the blacktips jumping and spinning and splashing back into the water," Kajiura said. "They're not out to get you,you're not part of their diet, so you may as well go to the beach and enjoy the phenomenon."
The sharks are expected to stick around the Florida coast until mid-to late March, and then head north.
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