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Researchers: Weather could help predict shark attacks

Posted at 5:23 PM, Jul 11, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-11 21:26:42-04

LA JOLLA, Calif. (KGTV) - Dr. Greg Skomal and Meteorologist Joe Merchant are working together as they test a new theory on how sea breeze may correlate with set off a predatory chain reaction.

So far their research has taken them to the Bahamas and Cape Cod, both locations on the East Coast, given several recent attacks.

Skomal says, "It could be weather conditions it could be water temperature so were testing all these various factors to see if there's any patterns including Joe's ideas that drive the behavior of these sharks."

Merchant believes a weather condition called a sea breeze may set off a predatory chain reaction. He says it brings nutrient rich deep water closer to the surface, attracting tiny marine life, which attracts larger fish and in turn attract the oceans largest predators, sharks.

Fisheries Research Biologist Heidi Dewar tells 10News, "On the East Coast you have the warm Gulf Stream that moves broad on a continental shelf and our coast we have a cold current coming from the north and a very narrow continental shelf."

For this reason, we may not be able to use the same theory for our coast.

"It's not clear that would translate to the West Coast; we have a very different ecosystem over here," Dewar tells 10News.

Dewar says pinpointing sharks' locations and predicting where they will be next is going to require much more data and research. Meantime, she says one thing is certain: the number of sharks in the water is going up.

"We do know shark population in the North Pacific are increasing and so people will see more sharks in the water."