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Sharks are getting ready to leave Myrtle Beach for the season. Here's why.

The Sun News 8/30/2022 Adam Benson, The Sun News (Myrtle Beach, S.C.)

Aug. 30—It's been a summer of headlines here in the Grand Strand for the ocean's signature predator, with shark-related fare appearing seemingly every week.

But as the peak tourism season starts to wind down, so too does shark activity as the creatures seek out areas with more bountiful prey and less competition for it.

Sharks spend about half the year in South Carolina

With more than 40 species swimming through the Grand Strand's seas, the odds of seeing that telltale dorsal fin — or some other body part — are most likely from early May through late October.

Sharks have voracious appetites, with some species in captivity eating between one and 10 percent of their body weight every week. Nearly every type is also cold blooded, so when water temperatures remain below 68 degrees it can affect their highly attuned sense of vision, impact muscle mass and create breathing problems.

East Coast sharks leave for friendlier, warmer waters to avoid those kind of health risks.

Sharks really don't like the taste of human flesh

Despite their Hollywood reputations as man eating killers, human beings aren't natural prey to sharks and therefore aren't high on their dietary preferences.

Usually, a shark-on-human attack is essentially a case of mistaken identity. But when it happens, it can become international news. That was the case earlier this month after The Sun News first reported that two swimmers were bitten by a shark on the same day, sparking a global wave of coverage.

"Sharks evolved millions of years before humans existed and therefore humans are not part of their normal diets. Sharks are opportunistic feeders, but most sharks primarily feed on smaller fish and invertebrates," the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration explains on its website. "Sharks have been known to attack humans when they are confused or curious. If a shark sees a human splashing in the water, it may try to investigate, leading to an accidental attack."

And here's a little bit of science to explain why shark bites are even rarer here than other parts of the southeastern United States.

Because the continental shelf runs about 50 miles offshore in North Myrtle Beach, the estuaries where the sharks gather to breed and feed are generally much farther away from visitors here than in places like Florida where the shelf is just 1 mile from shore at some beaches," MyrtleBeach.com explains.

That most apex of predator is a rare sight in Myrtle Beach

Earlier this month, Breton raised eyebrows when he was spotted about 60 miles off the Myrtle Beach coast.

The 13-foot long great white, weighing in at about 1,400 pounds, was first tagged in Nova Scotia two years ago.

OCEARCH, a global nonprofit that researches sea life, said the shark's proximity to Myrtle Beach was an "anomaly."

"This is the latest we've seen one of our white sharks stay this far south in the Western North Atlantic. Typically we notice our white sharks start their migration north from mid-May to June," the organization said in an Aug. 2 press release.

(c)2022 The Sun News (Myrtle Beach, S.C.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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