Extensive research with data over 50 years suggests that shark attacks are more common during periods of brighter lunar illumination, although the cause is unclear.

Many different types of animals display behaviors that are related to lunar phases, however few studies to date have looked at the connections between lunar phases and shark attacks.

The new study findings are based on a global record of shark attacks compiled over a 55-year period from 1960 to 2015 from the International Shark Attack Archive located at the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida. Being able to calculate the numbers of shark attacks around the world and over the course of decades revealed a clear correlation between lunar phases and shark attacks, although the reasons remain unknown.

"It is not a matter of more light at night for the sharks to see. Most shark attacks occur during the day. However, the moon can exert other forces on the Earth and its oceans in much more subtle ways, for example, the gravity that we see affecting the tides."Steve Midway, an associate professor at LSU (Louisiana State University) and a researcher on the project, said in a statement. His combined experience in fisheries ecology and statistical analysis in the Department of Oceanography and Coastal Sciences of the Faculty of the Coast and the Environment allowed him to add a unique perspective to this research.

Scientists say it is still too early to show that lunar lighting is a causative factor in shark attacks. However, their new data serves as the basis for a better understanding of shark attacks and could be useful in developing recommendations for aquatic recreational activities in the future.

"The abundance of data we have would suggest that there is something worth looking into further."Midway said.



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