July 22, 2010

Lumina News: Warmer Waters Blamed for Shark Bites

Lumina News
by Brian Freskos
Thursday, July 22, 2010

Three days after a shark bite off Wrightsville Beach’s north end, a leading expert on July 20 pointed a finger at higher than average ocean temperatures, saying the high temps had opened early predatory feeding grounds along the North Carolina seaboard.

George Burgess, director of Florida’s shark research program and curator of the International Shark Attack File, suggested the unusually high ocean temperatures had accelerated northern migratory patterns at the same time droves of people were flocking to area beaches, enhancing the probability sharks and humans would interact...

Ocean temperatures have been unseasonably warm. Meteorologist Josh Weiss, of the National Weather Service in Wilmington, said in-water July temperatures have historically averaged 81 degrees. But temperatures have lingered in the mid-80s since June.

Between 2003 and 2009, shark bites in North Carolina averaged 1.5 per year, Burgess said. That is lower than South Carolina, which saw three per year on average during that same time period.

South Carolina has already met its yearly average. Bites have occurred at Otter Island, Fripp Island and most recently at Myrtle Beach, Burgess said...

Read the full article here.
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