TAMPA, FL (WFLA) — In the largest migration in U.S. coastal waters, thousands of blacktip sharks lurk in the waters during their annual migration off Florida’s southeast coast.
Shark researchers at Florida Atlantic University have been observing and tracking the “snowbirds of the sea” to report their whereabouts in real-time.
The aerial video (above) was taken on Feb. 27 right off MacArthur Park in Singer Island. You can see dramatically fewer blacktip sharks during migration season as compared to video footage from previous years.
In prior years, researchers have reported as many as 15,000 sharks on any given day.
Florida Atlantic University said anyone in the water at this time will likely be within a 60-foot radius of one of these sharks.
Monitoring the migration patterns of blacktip sharks is not just about public safety, it’s also about ocean health, according to the school. They sweep through the waters and “spring clean” as they weed out weak and sick fish species helping to preserve coral reefs and seagrasses.
The sharks are known to come down south during the coldest months of the year and head back up north when it starts to warm up.
Researchers said water temperatures will determine where these blacktip sharks end up.
They leave when the water temps up north drop below 71 degrees and swim as far south as southern Broward County or northern Dade County. The sharks migrate north in the spring as far up as North Carolina.
For eight years, FAU’s Stephen Kajiura, Ph.D., has been tracking these sharks using a boat, plane, acoustic monitoring devices, and drones to report their whereabouts.
Check out the huge numbers of migrating Blacktip sharks from the 2011 migration season in the video below.