Scientists have figured out how sharks react to hurricanes

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Scientists have figured out how sharks react to hurricanes

Scientists have found that large sharks usually try to leave the hurricane zone. However, tiger sharks remained at the heart of the disaster in 2016, and their numbers doubled in the immediate aftermath. The study is published in the journal Estuarine, Coastal and Shelf Science.

Climate change is increasing the number of extreme climate events, such as hurricanes that often shake the east coast of the United States. They affect not only humans, but also animals, both land and sea. Understanding how animals respond to extreme weather conditions is essential to the conservation and maintenance of biodiversity. Therefore, American and Canadian scientists decided to find out how different species of large sharks reacted to large hurricanes.

Scientists analyzed acoustic tagging data for tiger sharks (Galeocerdo cuvier) , blunt sharks (Carcharhinus leucas) , baleen nurse sharks (Ginglymostoma cirratum) and giant hammerhead sharks (Sphyrna mokarran) before, during and after Hurricane Matthew in 2016 and Hurricane Irma. in 2017. It turned out that all these species behave differently.

For example, in response to Hurricane Irma passing Miami, blunt sharks, giant hammerheads, and most nurse sharks appear to have largely swum out of the shallow waters of Biscayne Bay. This is consistent with previous studies that have shown that small sharks also evacuate from shallow coastal waters in the wake of the storm. However, large tiger sharks in the Bahamas remained in shallow waters in coastal waters, even though Category 5 Hurricane Matthew's eye was located over the area. And immediately after the hurricane, the number of tiger sharks doubled.

“I was amazed to see that the great tiger sharks did not swim away even when the hurricane rushed at them. They didn't even seem to flinch. Their numbers even increased after the storm passed. We suspect that tiger sharks have probably taken advantage of all the new opportunities presented by the death of other animals during the storm, ”- said one of the authors of the study, assistant professor at the School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences. Rosensteel University of Miami Neil Hammerschlag.

“Severe storms such as hurricanes are projected to increase in frequency and severity with climate change. How these storms affect the environment, including large sharks, is interesting and important for the conservation of many species, ”said Hammerschlag.

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