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'Werewolf' sharks are more likely to attack humans when the moon there is a full moon, researchers claim.

A new study from Louisiana State University (LSU) and the University of Florida (UF) has found a link between shark bites and phases of the moon.

According to shark attack records, more humans have come under threat during periods of higher lunar illumination compared to when the moon is an average size or smaller.

The authors said: "We wanted to answer the question of whether shark attacks were more or less frequent during different phases of the moon (as represented by lunar illumination).

"We sought to evaluate this possible relationship by considering geography of the attacks, reported species involved in the attack, and the outcome of the attack in terms of fatality."

Researchers admit their study using data from the International Shark Attack File has not yet determined whether lunar illumination actually provokes shark aggression.

Steve Midway, LSU associate professor and researcher on the project, said: "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."

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Not all sharks around the world appear to be directly correlate with the moon's phases, Forbes reports.

The authors continued: "Interestingly, species-specific analysis showed the fewest instances of significant moon phases (only one significant effect for white sharks).

"This was somewhat surprising because moon effects in other marine animals are often reported to be species-specific, and as such it would not have surprised us to see different patterns of effects in different shark species."

Where the predators are based could impact a species' tendencies to get a taste for surfers and swimmers, the authors explained.

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They added that it is too early to use the data to forecast the risk of shark bites in an area at any given time of the lunar cycle.

"The relationship we have reported here may not be causative, and as such we are not necessarily recommending that there are any immediate risk management benefits to our findings," the authors added.

"Rather, we hope to underscore the complex nature of shark attacks that not only involves sharks and humans, but the wider environment."

  • Animals
  • Sharks
  • Full Moon

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