Shark migration season kicks off, but numbers are down

The Florida Atlantic University (FAU) reported that Blacktip sharks are heading south in the largest migration in U.S. coastal waters off Florida's southeast coast. 

They went on to say though that this year, there are dramatically fewer numbers of these "snowbirds of the sea." In fact, researchers at FAU estimate the population to be about one-third of what they have seen in previous years.

For eight years, the university says that their very own Stephen Kajiura Ph.D. has been tracking these sharks using a boat, plane, acoustic monitoring devices, and drones to report their whereabouts. In prior years, the researchers have reported as many as 15,000 sharks on any given day. But not this year.

If these snowbirds don't come back to South Florida, it will have a huge ecological impact on this region, says the university. They typically head south during the coldest months of the year and return to the north when it starts to warm up, so water temperatures determine where they wind up. Studying the correlation of water temperatures and migration patterns provides Kajiura with a powerful predictive tool.