Wildlife enthusiast and photographer Chris Paparo has shot some outstanding footage over the years. But he may have reached his eye-popping peak with a drone video of blacktip sharks feeding amid an enormous pack of Atlantic menhaden off Long Island last month. Yet as visually spectacular as those shots are, Paparo says they’re even more significant in carrying urgent warnings about global warming.
Long Island drone video captures sharks feeding in massive fish school
Paparo took his drone video of the frenzy feeding sharks off Southampton on July 24. In it, the emerald waters of the Atlantic are filled with a dark brownish mass of countless menhaden swimming in a tight, dense school. Within that teeming expanse of fish are what Paparo calls “blacktip and/or spinner sharks” having themselves a nosh-a-thon. The predators are easily identified in the footage as dorsal finned lawnmowers cutting wide paths in the thicket of menhaden.
Arresting and rare as the feeding frenzy video is, it isn’t surprising Paparo was the person who shot it. A native of Long Island, Paparo has documented the area’s wildlife as a researcher, photographer, and author for over three decades. His pictures and films are featured on the Fish Guy Photos site, as well as Paparo’s Facebook page. As a kind of vocation sideline, the New Yorker also manages the Marine Sciences Center at the Southampton campus of Stony Brook University.
Stunning video reflects disturbing advance of global warming
Indeed, it’s the oceanic knowledge Paparo has compiled from that wide activity that allows him to understand why the events in his incredible shark drone video took place: They were a direct consequence of global warming.
Rising temperatures across the planet are warming ocean water, causing migrating sea life to venture farther north than usual in search of cooler environments. Multiple blacktip shark sightings off Long Island’s nearby Jones Beach, for example, provoked several temporary closures in July. That’s new for the species of Caribbean reef predator, which usually stays farther south.
“Climate change is definitely playing a role… especially in the sightings we’re seeing this year and last year,” Paparo said in a CBS News report. “As sea temperatures are rising due to climate change, a lot of fish populations are shifting north.”
The same climate consequences of global warming have occurred off the California coast. For example, researchers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium say great white sharks are migrating higher than ever before to find the colder water they’re used to. Those scientists examined 22 million data points from 14 shark species taken over 38 years. What they discovered was while the preferences of the creatures hadn’t significantly altered, their seasonal migration has as they adjust to rising water temperatures.
Paparo’s incredible drone video of blacktip sharks off Long Island is another indication of just how seriously climate change continues disrupting the planet and the lives of everything living on it. And that’s catastrophic news for far more life forms than just Long Island’s Atlantic menhaden.
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