BAY COUNTY-- Sharks - we fear them and we are fascinated by them. Sometimes it is difficult to separate fact from fiction, but not for Dr. John Carlson with NOAA Fisheries. I call him the Shark Doctor!
"We look at the life history, how old are sharks, how fast do they grow, how much young do they have every year. All this information that we are gathering is used to conserve and manage our shark populations," John Carlson PhD, NOAA Fisheries, said.
We seem to be hearing about shark attacks a lot lately.
"It's a common misconception because when people look at the numbers they see more and more shark attacks every year and what they relate that to is, 'Oh my God, there's more sharks in the water.' But that's not necessarily the case. What we are seeing is a reflection of more people going to the ocean every year, there's more people living along the coastline and its just a matter of statistics."
So is it safe to go in the water?
"Actually you have a better chance of being in a car accident and getting severely injured on your way to the beach than you do being attacked by a shark. One thing we recommend to people is don't swim during the times of the day when the visibility is low. Dawn to dusk is a general time to avoid. It would also be good to avoid areas where people are fishing. Some people like to wear ankle bracelets or jewelry, when they go swimming. The jewelry flashes in the water just like a fishing lure."
According to Dr. John Carlson, sharks are an important part of the natural eco-system that make up the oceans and the gulf. Probably best observed from a safe distance!
The Shark Doctor also recommends against wearing brightly colored swimwear into the gulf to minimize your chances of being bitten.