You Can Thank a Shark for Our Healthy Beaches

Myrtle Beach is home to more than 40 species of sharks living right off our sunny coast. 

You may be wondering if that’s true, why do our waters stay relatively clear of these sharp-toothed friends? 

The reason we’re able to share our strip of coast with these sleek, gray fish is due to our extended continental shelf which reaches about 50 miles offshore. 

The shelf, where sharks gather to eat, is much farther out than some shelves on the southern coast, which can reach as close as one mile away from shore. 

Even though we may be afraid to see them in the water up close, sharks are pretty important to our ocean eco-system. As apex predators (a predator at the top of the food chain), they keep prey populations under control by removing the weak and sick, which indirectly helps to maintain coral reef habitats. Without sharks, the larger predatory fish increase in abundance and feed on the herbivores, therefore causing an increase in algae and a shift in the ecosystem.

Although algae have the potential to become a threat, they are always part of a healthy reef community. Too many can offset the health and survival of these complex underwater habitats. 

For the record, the odds of being bitten in Myrtle Beach waters is about one-in-four-million. But if you’re still not sure about jumping in our oceans, check out these tips to stay clear of sharks this summer.
  • Stay away from stormy or turbulent waters. The choppy sea can churn up baitfish or ruin the visibility for the sharks. It’s best to stay in clear waters so you don’t get mistaken for prey.
  • Do not swim near piers. Fisherman usually hang out here, which means fish bait is usually floating nearby. If a shark smells this bait, they might be expecting their next meal.
  • Swim in groups and with soft movements. Sharks are more likely to attack individuals and sudden movements may draw attention.
  • Always pay attention to warnings on the beach. 

So, go ahead, dip your toes in the water this summer. And, if you’re interested, check out some sharks from a distance at Ripley’s Aquarium or meet Rally Shark at a local Pelican’s game.

Click here for 10 Fun Facts about Sharks.

– By Olivia Dimatteo, a blog contributor for Garden City Realty

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