Deadly shark species being drawn to UK by rising sea temperatures

Warming sea temperatures could bring deadly sharks into British waters, experts believe.

In 2022, a snorkeler on a shark-spotting tour off Penzance in Cornwall was bitten on the leg by a blue shark. It was the first incident of its kind in the UK in 175 years.

She was rushed to hospital, but luckily the injury was not serious and she only needed a few stitches.

Last year also saw two deadly shark attacks in the same popular holiday resort.

READ MORE: Horror shark attack off British coast leaves snorkeler with grim leg injuries

The grisly death of Elisabeth Sauer, who was mauled by a shark in shallow water near the popular Red Sea resort of Hurghada, came just a day after the fatal shark attack on Roxana Donisan, just 650 feet up the coast.

Those deaths shocked locals. Shark attacks on humans are rare in the Red Sea, and for two to happen in such short succession implied that something new was happening the world’s oceans.

Overall, the numbers of sharks are declining, but the increasing numbers of swimmers, surfers and scuba divers taking to the water have meant that the number of shark bite incidents has stayed relatively static.

Added to that, rising sea temperatures have driven some species of sharks into new ranges.

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Great White Sharks, in particular, have expanded their territories closer to the Australian coast. The east Australian current is the fastest-changing in the world, and in years affected by the El Niño weather event, the monster predators move closer to the coast – and as a result closer to swimmers.

In Florida, another area known for frequent and often deadly encounters between sharks and humans, sea temperatures are also on the rise.

In a new BBC documentary, Why Sharks Attack, Dr. Dean Grubbs from Florida’s Coastal & Marine Laboratory, says: “We’re in a region where the summer sea surface temperature has aware day about three degrees in 15 years, so it’s a bit of a hotspot”.

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While his research has yet to identify any major changes on Florida’s western coast, the east coast is a very different story.

There, Bull Sharks and Black Tips are expanding their range further north, into warming waters.

Dean added: “Where these sharks migrate, particularly the Blacktips, we’re also seeing shark bits up in the Virginia and Maryland areas – that were quite an uncommon thing – now becoming more common”

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As global sea temperatures rise, these temporary changes are likely to become permanent.

Closer to home, scientists predict that warmer waters could attract some sharks, like the Oceanic White Tip, to the UK from the Mediterranean.

This may lead to more shark bites here the future.

With sea temperatures rising, the declining shark populations may begin to expand their ranges in search of new prey

Why Sharks Attack will be aired at 8pm on BBC1 on Tuesday, July 18

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