You’re More Likely To Be Attacked By A Shark When There’s A Full Moon, Study Finds

by : Charlie Cocksedge on :
You're More Likely To Be Attacked By A Shark When There's A Full Moon, Study FindsAlamy

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the water… you’d better check what phase the moon is in first.

According to a new study, if there’s a full moon in the sky then you’re in with a bigger chance of an unprovoked shark attack taking place.


Researchers from Louisiana State University and the University of Florida looked back at data from the past 50 years of shark attacks to determine the most common scenario for shark attacks and how they relate to lunar phases.

Two sharks swimming (Alamy)Alamy

In a study, titled ‘Shark Side of the Moon: Are Shark Attacks Related to Lunar Phase?’, researchers found that, on average, more shark attacks happen when the moon is brighter, while a below average number of attacks take place in periods of low lunar illumination.

While animals’ behaviour based on phases of the moon is nothing new, few studies have looked at the link between sharks attacking humans and lunar phases.


Looking at the global shark attack data in the International Shark Attack File, from the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida, for the period from 1960 to 2015 researchers found a clear correlation between shark attacks and the phases of the moon, Science Daily reports. However, the precise link between the two events remains unclear.

‘It’s not a matter of more light at night for sharks to see. Most shark attacks occur in the daylight. However, the moon can exert other forces on Earth and its oceans in ways that are much more subtle – for example, the gravitation pull that we see affect the tides,’ Steve Midway, LSU associate professor and researcher on the study, said.

Sharks (Alamy)Alamy

The study determined that when the moon was between half and full, also known as more then 50% lunar illumination, there were more unprovoked shark attacks than average.


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Though the researchers say it’s still too early to determine exactly why there are more shark attacks when there’s a full moon, the new data allows a deeper understanding of shark attacks and, they believe, will help develop improved recommendations for water-based activities in the future.

‘The abundance of data we have would suggest that there is something there that’s worth continuing to look at,’ Midway added.

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Charlie Cocksedge

Charlie Cocksedge is a journalist and sub-editor at UNILAD. He graduated from the University of Manchester with an MA in Creative Writing, where he learnt how to write in the third person, before getting his NCTJ. His work has also appeared in such places as The Guardian, PN Review and the bin.

Topics: Animals, Attack, shark


Science Daily
  1. Science Daily

    Under a moon spell: Shark attacks related to lunar phases