THE world has been rocked by a worrying spate of shocking and deadly shark attacks – and experts say humans and coronavirus are to blame.
In the past few weeks, multiple victims have been savaged by giant sea predators with three tragically losing their lives.
Just this week a New York fashion executive was killed by a great white in Maine – the state’s first ever shark fatality.
Julie Dimpero Holowach died just as it was revealed five monster sharks were detected prowling the waters off New York.
Now experts have warned the number of attacks will rise thanks to environmental initiatives to protect seals – a key part of a shark’s diet.
It’s beleived Ms Holowach – who was wearing a wetsuit – was killed by a great white which mistook her for prey.
A great white which killed a man off Cape Cod in 2018 is also believed to have mistaken him for a seal.
That was the first fatal shark attack in Massachusetts in more than eight decades.
And swimmers have also been warned to watch out for sharks moving closer to beaches left deserted during the coronavirus pandemic.
“They’re not vindictive or mad or angry or preferring human flesh,” said Greg Skomal, a shark specialist at the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries.
“They just occasionally make a mistake. And it’s tragic when they do,” he added.
Recent shark attacks include:
“As we restore top predators, the potential for these interactions could increase.”
Researchers are now seeing more great whites off New England, James Sulikowski, a researcher of Northeastern sharks based at Arizona State University, told Time.
The greater number of sightings is “unequivocally” because of the resurgence of seals, he said.
The resurgence of the seal population is down to the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972, which allowed them a chance to repopulate after generations of human hunting.
However, some people feel seals are now proving a real danger to humans as they are attracting record number of sharks closer to shore.
“They’re not looking for us. We’re not on the menu,” Sulikowski said.
“But as these predator-prey relationships continue, and because they are so coastal, there’s potential for interaction with humans to increase.”
Robert Hueter, senior scientist and director at Mote Marine Laboratory’s Center for Shark Research, also warned swimmers to beware.
Sharks will follow their meal, he said adding wherever seals, dolphins and other prey go sharks will follow.
“This is a natural predator-prey relationship going back eons,” he said.
“It’s not surprising that with a restored seal population we see the predator of the seal there.”
Shark attacks are very rare but marine biologists say swimmers should still avoid wearing dark clothing and should not swim alone.
Sharks are also far more under threat from humans than vice versa and every year millions are killed for or sport.
And nearly one in five shark species are said to be endangered or vulnerable.
“People should always remember that the ocean is a wild place. It’s like going for a walk in the deep woods and you have to know how to prevent encounters with bears,” Hueter said.