Blue shark in the Mediterranean: why we should not be afraid?

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In Hyères (Var), a blue shark was seen near Almanarre beach on Wednesday July 27. Two meters long, it is a female looking to give birth. It is not abnormal that during this period they approach the coasts, but there is no danger for the man recall the associations.

It was a man on his paddle who gave the alert. On Wednesday July 27, a blue shark was seen near Almanarre beach in Hyères (Var), according to information from France3 PACA.

Rumors spread that the beach had to be closed, “but it’s not true”, says the Var Departmental Fire and Rescue Service (SDIS 83). “A blue shark was indeed seen by a person on a paddle this Wednesday morning, Almanarre beach has never been closed. Since then, we do not know where he went and above all, it must be said that this presence is nothing exceptional!”.

A female who came to give birth

According to Nicolas Ziani, marine biologist, founder of the Marseille Shark Study Group, “it would be a female”. In the middle of the breeding season, it is not uncommon for females to approach the coasts.tes to give birth and shelter from predators.

“We must therefore stay away from the animal so as not to endanger it and stress it”, specifies the biologist. The town hall also added that “at the request of the Phocaean Group for the Study of Sharks, in conjunction with the CNRS, access to the beach of Port Hélène and to the dyke overlooking the San Salvador hospital have been neutralized by the Local police.”

An operation should be held to find out how to help this female who has come to give birth. However, the scientists and divers present on site have difficulty understanding its behavior, reports our colleagues from France3. “The animal is as if disconnected. For more than 24 hours, that it has been there, we do not understand its behavior. Its movements are repetitive, without purpose, as if it were disconnected from its cerebral system. It goes around in circles. “, explains Nicolas Ziani.

“The only dangerous is the great white shark”

“There are thousands of blue sharks offshore, especially in summer,” explains Nicolas Ziani. They often come to the surface because they are sensitive to temperature and sunlight. However, they are not dangerous for humans. And this is the case for most of the 50 species recorded in the Mediterranean, the vast majority of which never leave the depths.

“The only dangerous is the great white shark and it has almost disappeared, there are a few isolated specimens in the Adriatic”, regrets the biologist. In the Mediterranean Sea, the number of sharks is estimated at 500 individuals, and less than a dozen sharks have been reported by boaters along the coasts in recent years.

The last attack dates back to 1989

However, the shark continues to feed collective fears and to have a bad reputation, even though there have not been more than 100 attacks on men recorded in the Mediterranean since the Middle Ages.

“Five attacks have been recorded in France over this period, says Nicolas Ziani. The last goes up to 1989 in Italian waters and it was during a spearfishing.” According to the scientist, the shark is mostly shy and fearful, “it will only be interested in humans if it is baited by fish that bleed into the water”.

However, it is recommended that boaters who come across a shark do not approach and not try to touch it. This could elicit defensive behavior.

Twelve critically endangered species

The shark is above all a marine species threatened with extinction. In total, twelve species of Mediterranean sharks are on the global red list of critically endangered species established by experts from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). The Ailerons association recalls that the blue shark population in the Mediterranean “has decreased by more than 90% in recent decades”.

The cause: sharks trapped in nets, sea pollution, climate change caused by human activities. Even though these species are essential for the preservation of marine ecosystems. “They are terminal predators, they eat sick and dead animals. They are key regulators of other species, argues Nicolas Ziani, they must be respected”.

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