Jul 17, 2023 - Water

More Florida shark sightings a good thing, expert says

A silhouette of a great hammerhead shark close to the surface of the water.

A great hammerhead shark swimming close to the surface in the Caribbean Sea. Photo: Alexis Rosenfeld via Getty Images

The Florida Aquarium's resident shark expert gave this advice if you spot one of the finned critters in the wild: "Enjoy the view."

What's happening: Shark sightings appear to be on the rise, associate curator Eric Hovland told Axios, seconding reporting from our friends in Miami.

  • Footage of a rare great hammerhead swimming off the Dunedin Causeway last week got a lot of attention on social media.

Why it matters: More sightings means more technology, like the drone that captured the hammerhead video, but also more sharks — and that's a good thing, Hovland said.

  • Sharks are "functionally extinct" in many reefs worldwide, but conservation efforts have helped them bounce back. There are about a dozen species that roam the Gulf of Mexico.
  • The critters are essential to a balanced ecosystem, Hovland said. He'd be far more worried if there were fewer sightings.
  • "These are really important animals and we share their habitat."

The bottom line: Don't be afraid, he added. Sharks generally aren't interested in humans. The sun and the drive to and from the beach pose a bigger danger for people.

  • "If you're in the water, there are sharks out there," he said. "Get excited!"

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