GAINESVILLE, Fla., June 23 (UPI) -- Scientists aren't predicting Jaws-like carnage, but some researchers -- like George Burgess, director of the Florida Program for Shark Research -- expect the number of shark attacks this summer to exceed last year.
The expected uptick is logical, considering the fact that each year the number of people swimming in the ocean increases. Thanks to global warming and risking ocean temperatures, beach-goers are arriving sooner and staying later in the year. Not to mention the fact that shark populations are growing around the globe -- including the numbers of great white sharks on both coasts.
In other words, more exposure and more sharks equals more attacks.
Still, shark attacks are exceedingly rare, and can be avoided with a high degree of success if swimmers follow proper safety protocol -- like staying out of the water when bleeding and avoiding areas where predators might gather (near the mouth of a river or near large schools of fish).
"Stay in groups," the shark expert Burgess advised. "Sharks look for solitary prey. Also, stay out of the water between dusk and dawn, when sharks are most active. Go for a sunset walk on the beach and not a swim."
Besides, more sharks is a good thing, says Burgess, a sign that the ocean's ecosystems are relatively stable.
"If something is wrong with the largest, most powerful group in the sea, then something is wrong with the sea, so it's a relief to find they're in good shape," Burgess explained.
Burgess credits U.S. regulatory agencies and their conservation measures for the rebounding shark populations around the U.S.