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More sharks in the water

A couple of recent sightings in New Jersey waters can serve as evidence for new research that cites a growing number of great white sharks along the East Coast.

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great white shark
Dan Kitwood, Getty Images

Conservation efforts, along with an improved ecosystem, have contributed to the surging population, according to scientists.

Ryan Orgera, project manager with Monmouth University’s Urban Coast Institute, said there has been a gradual increase in the number of great white sharks since a federal ban on hunting took effect more than 15 years ago.

“It’s completely good news, in fact,” Orgera said. “We want to see increased numbers, and we’re still below the estimated population of 1961.”

The findings, though, don’t serve as the greatest news for shore visitors this summer. Still, Orgera said it is incredibly rare for swimmers to encounter a great white shark.

“They prefer much deeper water, 100 feet roughly,” he said.

To further reduce the chances of an encounter, Orgera suggested beachgoers swim in groups, avoid fishing boats, and stay out of the water in the evening.

There have been just six deaths in New Jersey related to shark attacks since the 1800s, according to the Global Shark Attack File, which includes attacks by all sharks. Orgera noted there are several shark species off New Jersey’s coast, including the thresher and shortfin mako.

Fishermen off Cape May and Long Beach Island spotted great whites late last month.


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