NEW JERSEY (PIX11) — Shark sightings happen every summer.
Over the holiday weekend, a great white was spotted off the coast of Ocean City, New Jersey.
Sharks frighten and fascinate many, but experts say they’re not a real threat.
“It’s far more dangerous to drive to the beach or hang out in the parking lot than to worry about a shark issue with humans,” Chris Fischer, founder of the nonprofit marine group OCEARCH, said.
Fischer said he has come face to face with sharks, including a great white spotted over the weekend.
OCEARCH tags and monitors the movement of sharks.
A tracker device pings when the shark breaks the surface of the water. In recent weeks, there have been reports of increased sightings, many of them off the beaches in New York and New Jersey.
Fischer said this is normal at this time each year.
“We’re in the northern migration of our white sharks moving from the southern range moving up to their winter range,” Fischer said.
The spike in the shark population is a positive sign of a healthy habitat and a cleaner ocean.
“We have a well-balanced system, and with that comes the return of the large sharks,” Fischer said.
In New York this year, Gov. Kathy Hochul has increased beach surveillance for sharks by deploying drones and helicopters to keep a watchful eye over beaches. Sharks often come close to shore when they are searching for food. The best advice for swimmers is to know the environment.
“You can’t just swim out to the ocean and not understand what’s happening,” Fischer said.
If you are in the water and suddenly come face to face with a shark, experts recommend you don’t panic.
“If you find yourself face to face with a shark, then you should swim right at it and eyeball it, don’t try to outswim it. You won’t be able to do that,” Fischer said.
It might sound daring, but the shark expert claims his approach works, explaining that sharks are not used to anything looking back at them, and if you swim toward the predator, it will back off because it is not used to anything swimming toward it.