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Northeast Shark Attacks: Is Climate Change To Blame?

By Leah Freeman-Haskin

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It looks like climate change is causing more than just hotter temps on land. According to Global Shark Attack File data analyzed by home security site SafeWise, there has been a noticeable increase in shark attacks in the northeast United States since 2000. Many scientists believe that the cause is due to rising ocean temperatures.

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“While sharks off the Jersey Shore are nothing new, experts who study the ocean predators say New Jersey’s waters are becoming an increasingly popular destination for unlikely species of sharks,” nj.com explained. “Ocean-warming climate change is already bringing sharks typically found in southern waters, like bull sharks and blacktip sharks, to New Jersey on a more frequent basis.”

The study reported that Northeastern states such as Massachusetts, New Jersey, and New York have seen an increase in attacks. Although the numbers seem to be increasing, it’s important to note that shark attacks are still relatively rare, with fatal ones being even less common. There are 91 million recreational swimmers in the U.S. each year, according to SafeWise, and only 44 attacks are recorded on average. SafeWise calculated that makes your chances of being attacked by a shark one in 738 million.

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People at the highest risk of encountering a shark are surfers, divers, and long-distance swimmers, and even the chances of a surfer being attacked by a shark are one in 17 million, according to the data. For scuba divers, that goes up to one in 136 million. It is always recommended to use common sense and to remain vigilant when in the ocean.

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