When you ask most people what their biggest fear is, they will oftentimes say sharks. Despite the animals being relatively calm towards humans, there have been recent shark attacks in New York that have shifted this outlook.
Five shark attacks over the span of two weeks have left beachgoers on Long Island hesitant to return to the water. Although these attacks have been happening to humans, the sharks aren’t targeting them. Instead, they’re after fish.
According to Florida Program for Shark Research Program Director Gavin Naylor, a sand shark nursery has been located off the Long Island coast. A large number of bait fish close to shore could be the reason for the unwanted encounters.
The sand tiger is a relatively calm species of shark that wants little to do with humans. Attacks are almost always carried out by smaller juveniles that accidentally bite someone while chasing fish.
“Off the coast of Long Island there are lots of juvenile sand tiger sharks, a lot of them, and usually we don’t have a problem with them. But as you’ve probably heard reported, a lot of the baitfish — the bunker (the menhaden) — are actually closer in this year and there’s a lot more… It’s a statistical fact that sharks don’t target people. If they did, we’d have about 10,000 bites a day,” Naylor said.
Since the majority of the time the bites are carried out by smaller sharks, the injuries haven’t been life threatening. Adult sharks are considerably larger and can deliver more damage in the event of an attack but they’re also more capable of telling the difference between a human and a fish.