The women’s magazine Cosmopolitan claimed Friday that global warming will cause a surge in shark attacks this year — but the article’s own sources contradict the claim.
Cosmo’s assertion is based on a National Geographic article from February that states more shark attacks occurred last year than in any other, as well as a study that says sharks are migrating farther north than before.
National Geographic’s explanation for the unusually high number of attacks is that warm El Nino weather encouraged people to go swimming more often. The magazine even quoted shark biologist Frank Schwartz of the University of North Carolina in Chapel Hill who “says there’s too much natural variability in weather cycles to blame the recent shark attacks on global warming.”
Shark experts support this position, saying “the number of shark-human interactions occurring in a given year is directly correlated with the amount of time humans spend in the sea,” according to the International Shark Attack File at the Florida Museum of Natural History.
Cosmo’s claim that sharks will soon start migrating into the waters of New York and New Jersey is countered by the fact that of the 98 total shark attacks worldwide last year, precisely 30 of them occurred in the state of Florida, while the biggest surge of attacks occurred in North Carolina.
Cosmo’s article also says that humans shouldn’t be afraid of sharks because scientists have captured “the first ever sonogram of a pregnant tiger shark, which is pretty cute.”
Other media outlets such as The Daily Mail, Investors Business Daily and CBS News also claimed that global warming should be blamed for any shark attacks this summer. They cited a single expert who told Reuters that rising temperatures might make swimming more popular, which could lead to more attacks.
There is less than one shark-attack death every two years in America, according to a 2005 study by National Geographic. Statistically speaking, cows are much more dangerous than sharks as they cause 20 deaths annually in the U.S.
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