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The Great White Shark Makes A Comeback

Past studies suggested a global decline in great white shark populations, but researchers recently found that the trend has reversed. (Joachim Huber/Flickr)

Past studies suggested a global decline in great white shark populations, but researchers recently found that the trend has reversed. (Joachim Huber/Flickr)

Great white sharks are making a comeback — along both the East and West coasts of the United States. Two recent studies published in PLOS ONE, from the Public Library of Science, found that great white shark populations are rebounding in both the Atlantic and the Pacific after years of decline.

“As apex predators, they have a special place in our eyes as poster children of the sea,” George Burgess, the director of the Florida Program for Shark Research, tells Here & Now’s Robin Young. “Having the biggest and baddest shark go down the tube is not good, and seeing it come back is a good thing.”

Burgess said shark populations have come back after over three decades of protections from the United States government.

Burgess says even though there are more sharks in the sea, there is no reason to think that shark attacks on humans will rise.

“We enter the sea naked and dumb millions of times a year, and only about five times a year we don’t come out,” Burgess said. “When we enter the sea, we’ve been within 10 and 15 feet of a shark several times in our lifetimes.”

Burgess says that shark attacks occur when the shark mistakes a human for prey.

He offers the following tips for peaceful coexistence with sharks:

  • Don’t swim after dark, as that is when sharks are most active
  • Don’t swim near the mammals that are part of a shark’s diet — such as seals — and don’t swim near schools of fish
  • Swim in a group, not by yourself
  • Don’t wear jewelry or any other shiny items when swimming, as a shark might mistake the glint of your jewelry for the glint of a fish’s scales.

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  • kiowavt

    This was a rather weak interview. Despite some good questions, the interviewer reinforced mistaken stereotypes of sharks more than I wish. Burgess has a few great lines as text, but seems sedated. If you do an internet search you can see Anderson Cooper and a shark expert Mike Rutzen swim with Great Whites. The expert even, yes, pokes them in the snout. Thanks to one movie I and others fear sharks. I shed my fear only after snorkeling and scuba diving with many disinterested (in me) sharks. But only a few pose any danger, and even those rarely attack. Perhaps 8-12 deaths a year as opposed to an estimated 100 million shark killings. Most have their fin lopped off and are tossed back to a slow death. If the sharks knew, we might have more to worry about. :-)

    • Sanfordia113

      Great white sharks are not harmless. The almost killed yet another swimmer this weekend. They should have been allowed to go extinct.

      • kiowavt

        And then polar bears. Wait, also many other bears. Tigers, tigers should go. And lions. And men. And other predators that scare us though we kill far far more of them. Oh wait, speaking of killers who are very dangerous, men are not harmless. Very dangerous! Extinct also? You have a greater chance of slipping and dying in the shower than being killed by a shark. Not to mention lightning. And much more. And let’s not even get into the fine role predators play in the balance of nature. But sure, let your fears and what my statistics professor called the example of one guide you.

        • Sanfordia113

          First of all, I don’t shower: I swim. Second of all, I swim in San Francisco Bay. Seals and I swim laps together. Neither of us are happy about the shark situation.

          • rushthis

            Then join a pool. The sharks were there first….and even though the odds are literally more than a million to one, you still want them extinct. Nice.

          • Angel

            You should shower. Hygiene is very important.

      • Angel

        They weren’t “allowed to go extinct”. People were killing them in order to child-proof planet Earth.

  • Lenny67

    Yea burgess is paid to save the shark by big oil…he’s on sun oils payroll. The more sharks he saves the more money he gets..trouble is people die eh george..

  • Lenny67

    Save our Seas pays chris neff to alter the word “attack” in the media to “encounter”. Really?
    The Great White, Tiger and Bull are back after Benchleys debarcle in 1970 whatever..the rise in attack rate is a direct result of saving these man eating sharks, not the supposed rise in populations as burgess is being paid to push…my friend watched his friend be eaten alive by a 15ft GW 2 years ago. This is a direct result of burgesses paid lies to the media.

  • Lenny67

    Meh…who reads this anyhoo..why bother

  • Angel

    “Yummy! More shark fin soup!” says every Japanese person everywhere.

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