A new study from University of Miami has demonstrated that sharks are getting closer to crowded beaches in Florida.

“Few studies have investigated the movements of ocean predators in relation to urbanization, but since other studies have shown that land predators are urban avoids, we expected sharks to be too,” said lead study author Neil Hammerschlag, director of the UM Shark Research and Conservation Program. “We were surprised to find that the sharks we tracked spent so much time near the lights and sounds of the busy city, often close to shore, no matter the time of day.”

Study authors have explained that there are different categorizations for animals that avoid or get close to the cities. Animals like pigeons or raccoons are called “urban explorers,” which tend to consume human garbage as food. Then there are the “urban adaptors” that usually spend time in urban areas but still are present outdoors. Lastly, “urban avoiders” are the type of animals that avoid civilization entirely. Based on the most recent finding, it has been hypothesized that sharks have turned from “urban avoiders” to “urban adaptors.”

The sudden change is theorized to be due to various local businesses and fishermen discarding fish carcasses. However, the close proximity of these predators to urban shores poses a threat to locals.

“By spending so much time close to shore, sharks are at risk of exposure to toxic pollutants as well as fishing which could impact their health and survival,” Hammerschlag explained.

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