Why sharks are increasingly seen in Greek seas
On Crete, a small shark approached the shore, while in Serifos, a group of young people was surprised to find a three-meter shark swimming near their inflatable boat. A shark was also spotted in Zakynthos, and just two days ago, sharks were caught in fishermen’s nets in Kilini and Nafplio.
What is happening with sharks in Greek waters?
Greek professor of fish biology and fisheries, Thanasis Kykleras, explained whether sharks living in Greek waters can be potentially dangerous.
Out of about 35 species found in Greece, three species have been accused of attacking humans in some other areas.
Is there a reason for concern?
“No, because these three species are found in very, very, very low concentrations in Greek waters and the entire Mediterranean. It is extremely rare for them to get caught in fishing nets or appear on the beach. In fact, even when they do appear, the individuals that come into contact with humans are very small. Finally, I should note that the largest species found in our area is completely harmless, as it feeds on plankton.”
Can they appear close to the shore and near swimmers?
This cannot be ruled out, but for all these years, nothing similar has been recorded. No shark attacks have been reported in Greece for about seven decades. With one warning, the last attack occurred in 1953 in Corfu. (From time to time, some other footage has been published, but they turned out to be fake in the end.)
Of course, we cannot completely exclude such a possibility because marine ecosystems are dynamic and constantly changing. At some point, more species can appear in the Mediterranean Sea. In any case, based on what we know and records from fishermen, the probability of an attack on a bather, as has happened in other parts of the world, is very low.
Are shark sightings in Greece really more frequent recently?
According to scientific data available to us, which extend until the end of 2022 – we will see what happened in 2023 exactly in a few months – that is not the case. We have not observed an increase in populations. There are several new species that have crossed the Mediterranean Sea through the Suez Canal, but they have been caught only once. In other words, it is a very rare occurrence.
Has anything changed in recent years regarding sharks?
We must understand that ecosystems are constantly changing. Climate change accompanied by rising sea temperatures alters the composition of populations – some species are favored, while others cannot withstand high temperatures. But these are things that cannot be controlled. What can be controlled is overfishing. Another thing that has changed regarding large predators in the ecosystem is that they are now more protected by European legislation. Also, people have become more aware of these endangered species. Specifically, the European Union has been banning shark fishing for their fins for several years, although it obviously continues illegally. Overall, these species are slightly better protected than before.
Is the reporting by Greek media about sporadic shark sightings exaggerated?
For those of us who know that these species have existed in Greek waters for thousands of years and that some of them are in scientific samples, nothing will change in our lives just because some shark videos have appeared on the internet.
In the end, are we in danger from sharks, or are they much more in danger from us?
History has shown that wild animals are more threatened by humans than humans are threatened by wild animals. Especially when it comes to species that have commercial value and can bring a lot of money on the black market. I believe there is no reason to be concerned for people who swim where they would normally swim. Now, if an amateur fisherman lures and brings a large shark into their boat, an attack can occur – that is a different matter, which would happen regardless of external factors.
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