Kids & Family

Experts: Shark Sightings Shouldn't Deter Your Vacation

Researchers are spotting more sharks in the ocean--but that's actually a good thing.

Just as families are finalizing their summer vacation plans, there have been a series of shark sightings off the East Coast.

This week, a great white shark was detected in the Long Island Sound just days after it pinged as a member of a cluster of sharks off the coast of North Carolina . Ocearch, an organization that tags and tracks sharks and other ocean life, say this is the first time they've detected a shark in the Long Island Sound. Ocearch says the shark, known as "Cabot," is just under 10 feet long and weighs around 530 pounds.

But before you think about canceling your trip to the beach this summer, these shark sightings may actually be a good thing.

Stuart Clausen, the Assistant Curator of Aquatic Life at the Pittsburgh Zoo and PPG Aquarium, told KDKA Newsradio that increased detections of sharks are partly due to an improving ecosystem .

"A lot of the conservation work that's been done over the last 10 to 20 years, especially things like fishing regulation and shark conservation, are actually starting to bear fruit," Clausen said.

He says that fishing regulations have meant a better food source for marine mammals, such as seals and sea lions, who then become prey for sharks. And Clausen says the shark migration Ocearch is tracking is normal, and not a cause for concern.

Cabot was tagged in Nova Scotia last year. He's recently "pinged" off of North Carolina and in the Long Island Sound.

"The biggest misconception is that [sharks] are actually coming into shore to target people, to target vacationers," Clausen said. "That's just not true."

While sharks will swim into shallow water to hunt, Clausen said they're looking for marine mammals, not humans. Simple safety steps you can take while at the beach include not swimming near fishing piers, not wearing shiny materials or jewelry in the water that could be mistaken as prey, and avoiding any marine mammals you might see in the water.

And while it may seem counterintuitive, if you do see a shark in the water, the best thing you can do is stay as still as possible so the shark does not mistake you for prey that is trying to escape.

To learn more about sharks, and to track the journeys of Cabot and other great whites Ocearch has tagged, you can click here.

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