Florida shark migration begins with lower numbers than previous years

Blacktip sharks known as 'snowbirds of the sea'

BOCA RATON, Fla. – The South Florida coast is infested with sharks, but have no fear--they're welcome.

Every year, blacktip sharks migrate down south during the cold weather months, WPLG reports. These animals, known as the "snowbirds of the sea," can travel as far south as Miami during their trek to find warmth.

It may seem like a lot of sharks, due to the fact that 150,000 have been spotted each day off the coast of South Florida, but scientists say there have actually been a lower number of sharks than usual due to water temperature. 

"Last year, we saw a dramatic decline in the number of blacktip sharks that migrated south. In fact, it was so low that we estimated the population to be about one-third of what we have seen in previous year," said Florida Atlantic University professor Stephen Kajiura, Ph.D. 

Blacktip sharks help the ecosystem, specifically coral reefs and sea grasses, by "cleaning out" weak fish species.

"We want to make sure that these snowbirds come back to South Florida, because if they don't, it will have a huge ecological impact on his region," Kajiura said.