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Beachgoers will have to keep an eye out this summer because sharks are coming around more than ever, Popular Science reported.
The reason? Sharks actually like to live around populated coastal areas and cities, regardless of the presence of humans, scientists said in a new study.
A research team tracked the movement of three species – great hammerheads, bull sharks and nurse sharks – in and around Florida’s Biscayne Bay between 2015 and 2019.
The findings showed that the apex predators preferred to hang around this area despite the number of stressors, including pollution from power plants and boat traffic.
The team said the results were very surprising because most terrestrial animals, such as bears and coyotes, avoid urban areas. But sharks are “urban adapters” and have no problem swimming in populated regions, even during increased human activity in the summer season.
Researchers specifically noted that a series of factors influence the marine creature’s choice: Among them are the nutrient runoffs from sewer discharge and discarded fish carcasses dumped by fishermen in the area.
Ocean salinity, oxygenation and depth could also influence sharks’ location preferences, they added.
But the authors cautioned that this change of location could be detrimental to the fish species, because populated areas can be very polluted and have poor water quality.
Even so, the tracking of sharks could help authorities advise swimmers and isolate areas where the predators hang out.