A massive grouping of sharks has been spotted close to shore off the Florida coastline, as the oceanic predators begin their yearly migration northward, prompting officials to issue warnings for beachgoers.
WPTV reports that their helicopter spotted the massive gathering of sharks as the animals congregated off the northern edge of Singer Island. Such a grouping is called a “shiver” by the U.S. Geological Survey, and while they are far from uncommon, the one filmed in Florida occurred much closer to shore than usual, according to the Palm Beach Post.
The majority of sharks in the video are thought to be either blacktips or spinner sharks. As the Inquisitr has previously reported, neither species is capable of inflicting fatal injuries on swimmers, though they are often responsible for bites. Such attacks are usually the result of misidentification or curiosity on the part of the sharks, according to George Burgess, director of the Florida Program for Shark Research at the Florida Museum of Natural History. Blacktip sharks in particular are thought to be responsible for an average of 20 to 25 bites per year, he noted.
— Christopher Bird (@SharkDevocean) March 18, 2015
“With this species, bites are a case of mistaken identity in which the shark interprets the movements of the human at or near the surface as being those of fish,” he explained. “Sharks have to make a quick decision. They grab at a splash and sometimes that splash has a human foot or hand in it.”
Though shark attacks are rare in Florida, lifeguards fly purple flags to warn beachgoers of the presence of dangerous marine life. According to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, a beachgoer is 30 times more likely to be struck by lightning than to fall victim to a shark attack. In 2014, for example, only 28 shark bites were reported in the entire state of Florida. Between 1882 and 2012, Palm Beach County reported just 62 shark incidents, none of which proved to be fatal.
— DianeN56 (@DianeN56) October 10, 2014
Experts attest that at this time of year, the sharks are preparing to move north as water temperatures rise. Katharine, a famous great white shark, has wintered just north of Florida after spending the previous months in Cape Cod, following a similar coastal migratory pattern as researchers track her movements.
Authorities warned swimmers to remain out of the water between dusk and dawn amid the movement of sharks off the Florida coastline.
[Image via WPTV]