Science | July 22, 2022 1:20 pm

More Shark Sightings Are Actually a Good Thing, Ecologically Speaking

More sharks mean cleaner waterways

"More shark sightings" is the definition of something that's both good news and bad news.
Marcelo Cidrack/Unsplash

The New York metropolitan area is currently experiencing a heat wave, as is often the case in late July. Not surprisingly, that’s led to a lot of area residents heading to the beach, under the entirely reasonable idea that brutally hot temperatures are an excellent reason to plunge into the ocean. Unfortunately, several local beaches have been closed due to shark sightings. Those are not isolated incidents, either — there have been a growing number of shark sightings, as well as some bites, throughout the year.

As it turns out, that higher number of sharks could actually be a welcome development when it comes to the local ecosystem. Remember the “nature is healing” memes in 2020? It’s like that, but with something that could eat you.

In a new article for Curbed, Clio Chang explores just why this is. Chang spoke with Christopher Paparo, a naturalist and educator who manages Stony Brook University’s Marine Sciences Center marine lab. Paparo pointed out that the thriving shark population in the New York area is a positive development.

“Shark populations around the world in general are on the decline,” he told Curbed. “Yet New York is one of the busiest metropolitan areas in the world, and we have a booming shark population.”

As Paparo phrased it, the presence of sharks in these waters “shows a clean environment.” Given the efforts underway to make local waterways a cleaner place, that’s an encouraging development — even if it might not seem that way.