Why Are More Sharks Lurking Off New York Beaches?
Three shark attacks in a little more than a week off New York beaches has local officials, marine biologists and scientists looking for answers. According to the The Florida Museum of Natural History's International Shark Attack File says there have been 10 unprovoked incidents of human-shark interactions in New York over the past 100 years, including the 3 from last week! That is one every ten yeas and now there have been 3 in a week? Something is different and according to local researchers, it could be a good thing.
According to an article by Craig Schneider of newsday.com, cleaner waters are a big reason for increased marine life around the New York beaches. Christopher Paparo, a member of the South Fork Natural History Museum’s shark research team, told Schneider, "There are a lot more sharks than 10 or 15 years ago. We're spotting sharks, whales and dolphins here. In the 1960s, we did not have sharks, whales and dolphins."
Here's a big reason that water surrounding Long Island is cleaner. According to the New York City Department of Sanitation, the Big Apple began dumping it's garbage and waste sludge off it's own coasts into the ocean in the late 1880's. The practice did not end until 1992. New York City was the last municipality in the United States to stop dumping garbage in the Atlantic. Ending that practice alone has been a huge boost to marine life.
However, the Empire State still has a ways to go. According to the National Resource Defense Council, approximately 27 billion gallons of waste water from NYC are making its way to New York's tributaries each year. That water eventually leads to the the Atlantic Ocean. New York City's ancient infrastructure makes this a problem that is almost impossible to contain.
There is little doubt that the water surrounding New York is cleaner. I can tell you personally that having fished New York's ocean waters for 50 years, I had never seen whales, seals and dolphins in the quantities there are now. The last 15 years have been incredible. With those other species, come sharks. Always be cautious swimming. According to scientists, most shark bites aren't fatal. However, they all hurt. Higher numbers can lead to higher incidents. There are more sharks there than ever before, just be aware when you swim.