WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (FOX 13) - Sharks are migrating in larger numbers along the Florida coast than in the previous year, researchers say.
Researchers with Florida Atlantic University track the migration of blacktip sharks along the U.S. coastal waters off Florida's southern coast and have for more than eight years.
Professor Stephen Kajiura, Ph.D. and his team track the sharks using boat, plane, and drone to report their whereabouts. They also tag and release them so they can track their path.
On any given day, researchers have reported as many as 15,000 sharks, however, last year, the blacktip shark numbers were smaller.
This year, Dr. Kajiura said the numbers are better, and researchers are looking at water temperatures and other environmental factors to see why they're more abundant.
The sharks usually stay until mid-March and then migrate up the coast, but Dr. Kajiura said this year, it appears they are leaving early. "We continue to fish and fly so will hopefully have more data in the coming weeks," Dr. Kajiura told FOX 13.
Video posted by FAU shows thousands of blacktip sharks swimming along West Palm Beach off the Florida coast, some of them in just knee-deep water. But researchers say there's no need for swimmers to worry.
Blacktip sharks are usually skittish and will usually swim away when they're approached. "It's visually compelling to see these sharks close to shore, but it's not cause for concern," said Dr. Kajiura. "It's indicative of a healthy ecosystem," he said.