Continue reading for our analysis...
- Key West is a tiny island bordered by the Gulf of Mexico.
- Shark attacks on humans are rare.
- Humans confronted with a shark should move slowly and remain calm.
Key West is a tiny island bordered by the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean’s deep and shallow seas. It has the world’s third-biggest barrier reef, as well as a flourishing marine life that provides spectacular snorkeling opportunities.
Because the ocean is a shark’s natural environment, it can be discovered in Key West’s seas. But, before you dash back to shore, humming the Jaws theme tune in your head, take a moment to observe what one couple went through in 2011.
Enjoying their time in the refreshing water, a couple relaxes on a boat just four miles off the coast of Key West. With crystal clear water and skies to match, it looked like a beautiful day to spend in the ocean.
A woman named Heidi says, “The water’s beautiful,” as we hear a man behind the camera laughing. She continues to swim around until a few seconds later, the man calmly asks her to get in the boat.
She quickly starts swimming toward him and asks if he’s being serious. One comment on the now-viral video states, “Mad respect for the guy recording, not freaking out and telling her to swim back was probably the best thing for the both of them.”
It’s thought that if he had said there was a shark or appeared frightened at all, Heidi could’ve reacted very differently. The video slows down to allow viewers to see just how close Heidi was to being a shark’s lunch that afternoon.
While it’s a little hard to tell what shark was interested in this couple, it appears to be a nurse shark. The nocturnal, docile nurse shark is the most prevalent shark in Key West. You have a decent chance of seeing one of these sharks sleeping on the bottom beneath a coral ledge if you go snorkeling or diving.
Once Heidi is safely back in the boat, she looks over the edge to see several sharks circling around. Nurse sharks are usually non-aggressive and will flee if confronted. Unprompted strikes on swimmers and divers have been documented, though.
They can bite with a strong, vice-like grasp that can cause catastrophic harm if disturbed.
What Do Sharks Normally Eat?
There are over 500 species of sharks worldwide, yet the diet among them is not that diverse. When it comes to diet, sharks are either carnivorous (feeding on marine animals like seals, turtles, or fish) or planktivorous (feeding primarily on plankton).
Carnivorous sharks, the category nurse sharks would fall into, are typically opportunistic predators and could consume any of the following animals:
- Bony fishes of varying sizes, from sardines and anchovies to tuna and mackerel
- Sea urchins
While nurse sharks are carnivorous, they focus more on animals like fish, crustaceans, squid, shellfish, and snails, and will also eat algae and coral. Nurse sharks do not seek to consume humans. In fact, there are few recorded incidents of nurse sharks attacking humans.
Where Do Sharks Live?
Sharks are found all over the world in the ocean and coastal habitats. They are found in beautiful coral reefs and in the deep sea. Additionally, sharks have even been found under the Arctic sea ice.
Different species of sharks can also be found in freshwater lakes and even rivers, although it isn’t common for sea-dwelling sharks to be found in freshwater areas, although it has been known to happen.
How Long Do Sharks Live?
Sharks typically live about 20 to 30 years old in the wild. Some species, however, such as the great white shark, can live much longer lifespans. In fact, on the spectrum of lifespan, Greenland sharks have been known to live a staggering 272 years. This makes them the longest-lived vertebrates in existence today.
Do Sharks Normally Attack People?
Anyone who is nervous about their next saltwater swim after watching this can rest assured that shark attacks on humans are very rare. Of the hundreds of shark species that have been identified, only about four percent of them have been documented attacking people.
Marine biologists encourage people who may encounter sharks in the wild to remember that the shark’s reason for coming near is probably just curiosity. But that curiosity can turn to fear if the shark is startled or confused, so moving slowly and remaining calm is strongly recommended.
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