Lunar BITES: Shark attacks increase during fuller moon phase, study suggests

'It’s not a matter of more light at night for sharks to see. Most shark attacks occur in the daylight,' said Steve Midway, one of the study’s authors

Lunar BITES: Shark attacks increase during fuller moon phase, study suggests
Sharks are more likely to attack during a fuller moon, when the lunar illumination is greater than 50%, says the study conducted by the Louisiana State University and the University of Florida (Bruce Bennett/Getty Images and Representational Image/Getty)
ADVERTISEMENT

GAINESVILLE, FLORIDA: The moon is a powerful celestial body that possesses the force of influencing the tides of the ocean. While the moon’s impacts on the ocean’s tides are known to all, a new study suggests that the moon’s fuller phases might also influence the creatures that swim within ocean waters, especially sharks.

ADVERTISEMENT

These ocean predators are more likely to attack during the fuller moon phase including the full moon, suggests a study conducted by the Louisiana State University and the University of Florida. In this study, researchers gathered and analyzed international shark attack data and then compared it to the phase of the moon at that time. “More shark attacks than average occur during periods of higher lunar illumination and fewer attacks than average occur during periods of lower illumination,” the study found.

ADVERTISEMENT

ALSO READ

Sharm el-Sheikh shark attack: Two women were killed by a 'SEX-CRAZED' shark!

Shark Week tells horror story of Eliecer Castillo and Cuban refugees hunted by sharks on bloody crossing

ADVERTISEMENT

Although, researchers admitted that they can’t pin down the connection between a fuller moon with shark attacks but pointed out “this is the first global study to report an effect of lunar illumination on shark attacks.”

Researchers say “all the instances of more shark attacks than expected occurred when the lunar illumination was greater than 50%" – meaning during a lunar phase when the moon had more light – and “all the instances of fewer shark attacks than expected occurred at lunar illumination of less than 50%”. However, they argued that “the moon’s effect on tides or electromagnetic fields might have an influence on the frequency of shark attacks during certain moon phases."

ADVERTISEMENT

A Great White Shark is attracted by a lure on the 'Shark Lady Adventure Tour' on October 19, 2009 in Gansbaai, South Africa. The lure, usually a tuna head, is attached to a buoy and thrown into the water in front of the cage with the divers. The waters off Gansbaai are the best place in the world to see Great White Sharks, due to the abundance of prey such as seals and penguins which live and breed on Dyer Island, which lies 8km from the mainland.
 (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

“It’s not a matter of more light at night for sharks to see. Most shark attacks occur in the daylight,” Steve Midway, one of the study’s authors and an associate professor at LSU, said in a statement. During the study, the researchers also analyzed “confirmed unprovoked shark attacks from 1970-2016” documented by the ISAF and available data on moon phases from the U.S. Naval Observatory’s Astronomical Applications Department.

ADVERTISEMENT

They conclude that “although this is not firm evidence of shark attacks preferentially occurring during periods of greater lunar illumination,” it warrants “further investigation.”

With this new study coming to light, the question here is, does the fuller moon also influence the behavior of other creatures? And the answer is YES. As per the research conducted earlier, animal behavior “has been linked to the phases of the moon” before.

ADVERTISEMENT

A Great White Shark is attracted by a lure on the 'Shark Lady Adventure Tour' on October 19, 2009 in Gansbaai, South Africa. The lure, usually a tuna head, is attached to a buoy and thrown into the water in front of the cage with the divers. The waters off Gansbaai are the best place in the world to see Great White Sharks, due to the abundance of prey such as seals and penguins which live and breed on Dyer Island, which lies 8km from the mainland.
 (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

The moon possesses the power of affecting the rhythm of not just animals but of humans too, says a study on the lunar cycle published in 2006. National Geographic reported that lunar phases could also affect oysters and zooplankton.

ADVERTISEMENT

“Moon phase is a well-established influence on animal behaviors, especially those in marine environments,” said researchers from LSU and UF.

Share this article: Lunar BITES: Shark attacks increase during fuller moon phase, study suggests