Deadly predators are already lurking in Mediterranean resorts, like Ibiza and Mallorca, but could start to move north as the seas warm.
There have been recent sightings of great whites in the Mediterranean – and scientists believe sharks could potentially be heading for the UK.
A huge 16.5-foot ‘Jaws’ was pictured off the south coast of Mallorca during the holiday season in 2018 – and another was photographed by a diver last year near Malta.
Now, a team of scientists participating in a Discovery Channel-backed expedition this summer is looking to probe the number of predators in the Mediterranean.
Meanwhile, experts say there have already been 10 credible reports of fearsome creatures in the seas off the British Isles.
As sea temperatures rise due to global warming in the years to come, there are fears that sharks may venture further north.
“ALREADY IN BRITISH WATERS?”
Cornwall has been suggested as a potential future great white shark hotspot, with predators drawn to the abundance of seals that call it home.
Dr Bob Hueter, chief scientist of the marine research organization OCEARCH, told The Sun Online: “It is very possible that white sharks already occasionally venture into the British Isles but are neither sighted nor seen. documented.
“With climate change increasing water temperature, this probability could increase.
“White sharks are unlikely to become common residents of the British Isles, but the occasional visits of this species venturing from the Atlantic coast of France could start to increase. “
Dr Hueter and his team, based in Florida, are set to investigate the shark population off the west coast of Europe as well as the Mediterranean.
Further northerly movements of the Mediterranean population of white sharks to the British Isles are a possibility with climate change.
Dr Bob Hueter
And in a map made by the expert, he estimates that sharks are already venturing off the coast of northern France.
He told The Sun Online: “Further north movements of the Mediterranean population of white sharks to the British Isles is a possibility with climate change. “
So far in 2021 there have been 44 shark attacks including five deaths, while in 2020 there have been 60 bites with nine deaths – the highest since 2011.
Experts insist, however, that shark attacks remain rare and that the numbers roughly match previous numbers from the past decade.
A recent study of young great white sharks in the United States found that they were already being pushed north by rising sea temperatures.
Dr Kyle Van Houtan, Chief Scientist of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, said: “Nature has many ways of telling us that the status quo is being disrupted, but it’s up to us to listen.
“These sharks – by venturing into territories where they have never been found historically – tell us how the ocean is affected by climate change. “
Dr Ken Collins, of the University of Southampton, based at the National Center for Oceanography and former administrator of the UK shark tagging program, said: ‘It is likely that we will see more sharks spreading from warmer regions such as as the Mediterranean Sea to our waters in UK over the next 30 years.
“You get great whites off the coast of South Africa where the water is colder than here and I see no reason why we shouldn’t have them in our waters.
“They are in the Mediterranean, which is not too far away and so I see no reason why they should not be spotted here, especially off the coast of Cornwall where there is an abundant seal reserve, their favorite food. “
Richard Peirce, former chairman of the Shark Trust, said that out of 100 claimed encounters with great whites in UK waters, around 10% are “credible”.
Experts from the trust said: “UK waters provide good conditions for white sharks, so it’s not impossible. “
It comes earlier this year that a 17-foot great white shark was tracked crossing the Atlantic Ocean – becoming the second sea beast to do so.
Nukumi – who weighs 253 stones and is 15 years old – was followed by OCSEARCH traveling the Mid-Atlanic Ridge.
The only other great white shark followed on the crossing was Lydia, in April 2014, who stunned scientists with an epic journey to the coast of Portugal.
Her two-month trip took her 1,700 nautical miles off the British coast – but despite the distance, scientists admitted she could have reached Britain.
Its tracker hasn’t cracked since the alarming discovery in April, according to OCSEARCH.
Scientists believed the shark was on the move because she might be pregnant and is looking for a place to give birth away from her aggressive male counterparts.
They thought maybe she was heading for islands or seamounts off the eastern Atlantic – maybe the Azores.
Or it could have headed for the opening of the Mediterranean Sea, “like there are white sharks in the Mediterranean”.