The gibbous Moon soars high across the sky tonight. It’s just a day away from “full,” so the Sun lights up almost the entire hemisphere that faces Earth.
The full or nearly full Moon has a big impact on many species of life — especially in the oceans. Reproduction in some corals is determined by the Moon, for example. So are some movements of the giant manta ray, among others. And some fish are more likely to take the bait on a fishing line around full Moon.
A recent study found one more correlation: shark attacks.
Researchers from the University of Florida and LSU looked through records of more than half a century of shark attacks around the world. They plotted them by shark species, geography, and other factors — including the phase of the Moon.
And the only real correlation they found was with lunar phases: more attacks took place when the Moon was at least half full. The trend didn’t vary by species, location, or any other circumstance.
The researchers don’t claim that the Moon is the cause of the attacks. Most attacks take place during the day, when the Moon makes little difference in the amount of light below the surface. The researchers say the peak in attacks could be related to lunar tides, magnetic effects, or some other factor. All they can say for sure is that sharks seem to be more likely to attack when the Moon is high and bright — as it is now.
We’ll have more about the Moon’s influence tomorrow.
Script by Damond Benningfield