Sharks: Florida Coast ‘Convention’ Brings Thousands Of Blacktip Sharks To Coastline

February 18, 2016 | By Garrett Montgomery More

A large group of sharks arrived on the Florida coast few weeks ago. According to experts, thousands of blacktip sharks have been spotted just miles off the Palm Beach County coastline where they will stay until March before swimming back to Georgia and the Carolinas for mating.

Sharks Florida coast

Sharks flood Florida coast is the headline coming from the Sunshine State this week. Maybe beachgoers should think twice before heading to Florida for swimming, surfing, and boating.

All of the last week, staff members of the Elasmobranch Research Laboratory at Florida Atlantic University (FAU) took to Instagram where they uploaded multiple pictures of more than 10,000 sharks swimming just off the Palm Beach County coastline for the winter.

One of the most viewed aerial snapshots showed an impressive congregation of sharks around the Jupiter Inlet. Another alarming picture showed a brave or confused paddle boarder about to encounter hundreds of sharks.

Stephen Kajiura, an associate professor at Florida Atlantic University, who has been monitoring and taking aerial surveys of shark abundance in the area since 2011, said it was the largest concentration of blacktip sharks he has seen thus far.

Mr. Kajiura revealed that in the past weeks, he has tagged 32 sharks, and hopes to tag 60 in total so he can observe where exactly they go in their migration patterns and how long they stay there. The expert added that the sharks might have migrated to Florida because they prefer temperatures of about 70 to 77 degrees Fahrenheit, and added:

“That’s why we have this huge number, Palm Beach area and south, where you simply don’t have them up north. They’re there, but they’re probably distributed over a much broader area and so you just don’t see those large dense aggregations that you see down here.”

Another theory for the sharks’ sudden move – they are trying to catch mullet and menhaden and are attempting to avoid bigger sharks. He shared:

“They’re about 6 feet long total, and so if you’re a big hammerhead or a big tiger shark you could munch down on one of these guys.”

Kajiura said the sharks typically spend January through March in Southeast Florida before returning to Georgia and the Carolinas where mating occurs. Despite the fact that blacktip sharks are responsible for the greatest number of bites in Florida, none of the beaches have been closed thus far.

What are your thoughts on the Florida shark “convention?”

Lucky paddle boarder (lower left) about to encounter hundreds of sharks. #shark #blacktip #sharkmigration @colganfoundation

A photo posted by Sharkmigration (@sharkmigration) on

Fishing for #blacktip #shark off #palmbeach. #sharkmigration @colganfoundation

A photo posted by Sharkmigration (@sharkmigration) on

#shark #sharkmigration #nurseshark @colganfoundation

A photo posted by Sharkmigration (@sharkmigration) on

#shark #sharkmigration #nurseshark @colganfoundation

A photo posted by Sharkmigration (@sharkmigration) on

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