By Terri Estes

It is summertime! The water is getting warmer, and we are gearing up for a great season at the beach. This is the reason most of us live here. But wait! There are reported shark sightings. Now what? Well, sightings or not, sharks have always been in the ocean. They live there. So do jellyfish, crabs, stingrays and whales.

Yes, shark sightings have become more prevalent lately. This could be due to conservation efforts or changing environmental conditions. If the quality of our local sea water is better, there will be more prey species available. It just makes sense that this will attract more sharks. The increase of shark sightings does not necessarily indicate an increase in the risk of shark attacks. Sharks are typically cautious and avoid interactions with humans. Statistically speaking, you are significantly more likely to drown due to a rip current than to be involved in a shark attack. According to the United States Lifesaving Association (USLA), rip currents account for about 80% of beach rescues performed by surf lifeguards. Nonetheless, it is always a good idea to follow local guidelines, stay informed about shark safety measures, and practice responsible behavior while enjoying the ocean.

Flatnose shark

I was one of the many who was traumatized by the movie “Jaws.” People have always had a fear of what lurked beneath, but “Jaws” brought it to a whole new level. It temporarily changed my perception of sharks and made me think twice before diving into the ocean. When I did wade slowly into the water, I would search the horizon for a fin that might be racing towards me. If anything grazed against my leg, I was out of there! Thank goodness I no longer feel that way. I have a deep appreciation for sharks and all sea life. Sharks are magnificent creatures. They are found in oceans all over the world and come in many shapes and sizes.  And while, I don’t want to pet or hug a shark, I will admire and appreciate them from a distance – a safe distance. 


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