Claire Corlett

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Is Sargassum Attracting Sharks to Galveston? | SharkFest

Is Sargassum Attracting Sharks to Galveston? | SharkFest

NARRATOR: Bull sharks bite with
more force, pound for pound, than any other species
of large shark. But in Texas waters,
they don’t frequently turn their teeth on humans. That is, until 2010– three attacks in
less than a year. The safety and livelihood
of local residents is under threat. Galveston is a tourism mecca,
but having a bunch of shark attacks in a short span
makes people question whether to go the beach. NARRATOR: All three attacks
take place in the waters off of Galveston Island, so wildlife
journalist Chester Moore returns to the scene to
search for clues that may shed light on the mystery. And near the water’s edge,
he spies something striking. CHESTER MOORE: This
is an incredible plant called Sargassum. NARRATOR: Sargassum
is a floating seaweed. Much of it originates
in the Sargasso Sea, a vast 3,000-mile long stretch
of ocean in the North Atlantic. But closer to home, Chester
has noticed something sinister. This seaweed seems
to attract sharks. When I’m out there fishing
and I see a bunch of Sargassum, I know I’m probably
going to catch sharks. NARRATOR: What is it
about this tiny plant that appeals to sharks,
and how could it explain the spike in attacks? Biologist Larry
McKinney has been studying the Texas coastline
for more than 40 years. He says the answer
may come down to what lies hidden within Sargassum. This is a mobile habitat. NARRATOR: The seaweed
provides food, refuge, and breeding grounds
for an array of critters. The types of animals that
are associated with Sargassum are particularly small, starting
with small crabs and shrimp. NARRATOR: These
animals, in turn, attract a variety
of larger species like fish and sea turtles,
the preferred prey of sharks. LARRY MCKINNEY: Any
place that would concentrate a food source,
sharks will always come. NARRATOR: Normally, Sargassum
floats to the Texas shore in small bits and pieces. LARRY MCKINNEY: Today, we
have kind of a normal amount of Sargassum. NARRATOR: But around the time of
the attacks, something changed. What I’m looking
at here are satellite photographs of the coast
of Texas during 2010, 2011. If you look just off shore, now
each one of these green dots, these are big
patches of Sargassum. They were coming in
in mats that were the size of a football field. You can actually see
Sargassum from space. [music playing] NARRATOR: In
Galveston, the seaweed buries the beach in huge heaps. Experts believe this
sudden influx of Sargassum may be the result of a variety
of environmental factors including strong winds
and a steady rise in ocean temperatures. And the seaweed invasion
isn’t limited to Texas. Beaches in Florida,
the Caribbean, West Africa, and South
America are also inundated. LARRY MCKINNEY: No
matter what they tried to do to clean it up,
within a few days, more were coming ashore. NARRATOR: It’s a
worldwide Sargassum siege. [music playing] Could sharks be following this
seaweed snack into the Texas shallows, thereby increasing
the risk of an accidental run-in with humans? According to McKinney,
sharks do follow the mats, but only so far. Well, you see, most of the
fish feeding on Sargassum is out past these breakers. Once it gets up
into these sandbars, it starts rolling over and over. The small animals do drop
out and they disperse. NARRATOR: So once
the seaweed reaches the shallows where humans
are, it loses its appeal. So the idea that Sargassum
attracted sharks into this area is probably not very likely.

100 comments on “Is Sargassum Attracting Sharks to Galveston? | SharkFest

  1. In the late summer, we had bull sharks swim up the rivers where I lived as a kid. Someone caught one in the freshwater end of the Severn River in Maryland.

    I've swam in that water at night and heard the sharks thrashing around in the shallows. I think they tend to stay near the bottom and suddenly find themselves in water too shallow to swim in. Not being positive of that, I tended to swim somewhat more quietly. 🙂

  2. Large vibrations in the earth's crust, along with hot temperatures, are causing millions of tons of sargasums, along the beach.

  3. Put simply, don’t worry about sharks at the beach in Galveston. If anything, Stingrays and vibrio are more of a worry.

  4. Silly ending.
    Since more sargassum = more fish, then if there was an uptick of sargassum in those years 'in the area' of Galveston then there were more than likely more sharks as well. The sargassum didn't attract the sharks to the shore, but since they were in the neighborhood …

  5. What was even the point of this. Instead of using overly dramatic music and presenting the idea that sargassum was responsible before retracting it at the last moment, you could have just done a little mini documentary on the importance of sargassum to marine animals.

  6. This starts out by calling Galveston a “tourism Mecca”. I live about an hour away. This is news to me. If it wasn’t for my curiosity as to what other stupid things y’all were going to say, I would have turned it off then.

  7. This click baiting and drumming up a dramatic tag line is annoying. At least not make it so dramatic if it’s not that exciting. Unsubscribing now.

  8. If you are desperate enough to go to the beach in tx then you deserve to get attacked. what a shithole state.

  9. I hope they are using the sargassum as fertilizer for food plants. Wonderful organic compost for fertilizer!

  10. its exactly these stupidass over dramatized documentaries that gives stupid people the reason to hunt sharks. I am amazed that national geography is airing something like this

  11. I fish here twice a week no sharks live here people act like they ain't supposed to come close but they do it's their Homeland you don't expect to see a shark walking downtown do you come on people get real that sargassum weed comes from Africa it does it every year it lands on the beach and it starts cooking in the heat it makes an awful gas but then again it's Habitat for the fish and shrimp and microorganisms that attract a lot of the fish we catch here want to give out for shout out to Chester Moore I knew his daddy peace out people

  12. So the sharks are drawn to the sea weed. But once it’s about half a mile off shore it’s starts tumbling.
    So the sharks just swim away???
    They are not remotely attracted to the swimmers half a mile away???

  13. I live in houston… if you go to galveston for a beach day, your expectations should be LOW. I drive to Florida instead of going into that water lol

  14. It’s probably like the deadly algae blooms. Hopefully it’s natures way of cleansing the ocean.

  15. Fact: Galveston waters are NOT clear at all, (with no close reefs), throw in the surf…you got zero visibility! Scientist say the sharks come very close to people in the murky water and the people are not even aware of it! Ships spread seaweeds, and parasites. You would be surprised of how many different creatures there are in the Gulf of Mexico!

  16. First off all people in Texas are not afraid of sharks. Galveston water is disgusting and smells like sewer.

  17. I live in Galveston and am a Marine Biologist. The sargassum comes in every year, some years we have more than others but this is a natural process and is not related to so called global warming. It is a dune stabilizer and buffet for shore birds. National Geo is hyping this up for sure!

  18. I've caught and seen caught tiger sharks hammerhead sharks bull sharks blacktip sharks spinner sharks silkie sharks in 8-10 feet of water but if there is a lot of bait in the surf they will get up to 3 foot of water

  19. The way oil companies pollute Galveston Bay is more dangerous than anything nature could conceive. Sharks are not going to rot your skin and cause contact dermatitis.

  20. I was In Galveston last month and I went to the beach. I wasn’t going to get in the water tho I ain’t want to.

  21. I was in Galveston last week and did a bit of fishing. I personally caught 5 sharks while surf fishing around the second sand bar. I caught a hammerhead, bonnet head, and black tips. The company I was with caught more total than I did and caught some bigger sharks. I did notice this aquatic plant though before watching this video I don’t believe I’ve ever heard of it. Galveston is loaded with sharks.

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