A massive school of fish in the ocean forms a fascinating natural sight. But for sharks, they become breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
A vacationer with a drone camera captured a scene fit for a horror movie: a group of sharks, also known as a shiver, feasting on a school of menhaden fish off the coast of New York’s Hamptons, one of the most famous vacation spots in the United States.
Gregory Skomal, a senior scientist with Massachusetts Marine Fisheries, says sharks often feed on large schools like this, even off popular vacation spots like the Hamptons. “Sharks’ travel patterns in the area are well documented, and include regularly feeding on large schools of fish,” he said. “This year we’ve seen an increase in schools of menhaden in the area, leading to more of these occurrences.” (See how divers rescued four sharks.)
The sharks in question are most likely sandbar or dusky sharks, two common species for the North Atlantic Coast, according to Skomal. “These species have a very strong seasonal presence, from New Jersey all the way up to the coast of Maine,” Skomal said, identifying the geographical region known as the New York Bight.
Migration patterns, caused by shifting water temperatures, most often bring these sharks to the area. But vacationers should fear not: Skomal notes that these species are not dangerous to people. (Get more tips on staying safe from shark attacks.)
The area has seen a growth in shark activity, with a reported nine baby white sharks being born in the last year. This and other recent data led OCEARCH, a nonprofit organization for marine science and shark research, to report that Long Island may be a nursery, or a birthing site, for sharks along the East Coast.
As shark sightings gain attention, hopeful sightseers turn to modern tools to capture these moments. In particular, drones equipped with cameras have been put to use, producing stunning video.
Skomal points out that through the use of drones to document shark feeding, we get a look at these creatures in a new way.
“With drone technology being used like this, we’re seeing these kinds of images for the first time,” said Skomal. “It’s fascinating to see the natural biology of these animals and these interactions between predator and prey taking place.”