A surfer in West Palm Beach recently found himself a bit too close for comfort to one of the area’s local sharks, as the predator joined him in riding a wave and perfectly set up an unintentional photobomb.
The unusual image was captured last Thursday by Jordan Waldron, who was taking pictures of her boyfriend as he surfed. As the Orlando Sentinel reports, Waldron spotted something in the water near him, and was able to take several photographs of her boyfriend riding the same wave as an apparently unperturbed shark.
— GrindTV (@GrindTV) February 27, 2016
Waldron said that there were numerous sharks in the water that day at the area off Reef Road where the photos were taken. Though it is uncertain which species of shark appeared in the picture, Waldron has her suspicions based on observations she made earlier that day.
“It was most likely a spinner shark as I saw some earlier jumping out of the water.”
Whatever species the shark belonged to, it is hardly alone off the coast of Florida. Recently, thousands of sharks have been spotted swimming along the state’s shoreline as they undergo a yearly migration to warmer waters. As CNN reports, video of the sharks filmed from above reveals a stunning density of the animals, which is more than enough to give even the bravest of beachgoers pause.
— WPY South Africa (@wpysouthafrica) February 22, 2016
The sharks observed in this manner are blacktips, however, and while this species is perfectly capable of striking at humans, they actually pose very little danger. The majority of shark bites that are recorded in Florida are routinely attributed to blacktips, yet no fatal attack in the region has ever been blamed on the species.
Despite their relative harmlessness, the blacktip sharks moving off the Florida coast are doing so in numbers that are imposing on their own. As Florida Atlantic University biological sciences professor Stephen Kajiura (who tracks the sharks) pointed out, they are also doing so in close proximity to populated areas.
“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.”
Florida is one of the most active places in the world for shark bites, with the area around New Smyrna Beach routinely referred to as the “Shark bite capital of the world.” Last year represented a new record globally for shark attacks, with 98 unprovoked incidents taking place worldwide. Of that number, 59 occurred in the United States, and 30 of those attacks took place in Florida.
Though a variety of factors are thought to have contributed to last year’s record number of shark incidents, experts assert that the increase is a somewhat natural consequence of an expanding human population. George Burgess, the curator of the International Shark Attack File, noted that the uptick in incidents may also be related to economic factors, as more people find themselves able to spend time in the sea.
“Sharks plus humans equals attacks. As our population continues to rapidly grow and shark populations slowly recover, we’re going to see more interactions.”
— Animal Protection AU (@MoveTheWorldAU) February 23, 2016
Of course, when sharks and humans meet, it isn’t always our species that has something to fear. Just a few days ago, a Florida man was filmed pulling a shark out of the water in Palm Beach, before pinning it to the ground while other people took his picture, as the Inquisitr previously reported.