Shark attacks related to the phases of the moon – ScienceDaily

New research from LSU and the University of Florida indicates that more shark attacks occur during the phases of the full moon. While the exact cause remains unclear, researchers have found that more-than-average shark attacks occur during periods of higher lunar illumination and below-average shark attacks occur during lower-light periods. Many different species of animals show behaviors associated with the phases of the moon, but few studies to date have looked at the links between moon phases and shark attacks.

What makes this research important is the abundance of data that the researchers analyzed. Their findings are based on the global shark attack record collected over the 55-year period from 1960 to 2015 from the International Shark Attack File housed in the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida. Being able to crunch numbers of shark attacks around the world and over the decades has revealed a clear relationship between the lunar phases and shark attacks, although the reasons are still unknown.

“It’s not about more light at night for sharks to see. Most shark attacks happen in broad daylight. However, the moon can exert other forces on Earth and its oceans in more subtle ways — for example, gravity,” said Steve Medway, associate professor and researcher. At LSU on the project, “Pulling What We See Affects Tides.” His combined experience in fisheries ecology and statistical analyzes in the College of Coastal and Coastal Sciences’ Department of Oceanography and Environment allowed him to add a unique perspective to this research.

Scientists say it is still too early to prove that the lighting of the moon is the causative agent of shark attacks. However, their new data serves as a building block towards a better understanding of shark attacks and could be useful for making recommendations for water-based recreational activities in the future.

“The abundance of data we have suggests that there is something worth continuing to look into,” Medway said.

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