Watch out, tiger sharks are coming to town.

A new study from the University of Miami says that changing ocean temperatures have caused tiger sharks to alter their migration habits. This means that the sharks may start showing up in waters that were typically unsuitable for them.

Changes in tiger shark migration habits and patterns may result in more encounters with humans. (iStock)

Scientists at the University of Miami Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science conducted the study by analyzing nine years of tracking data tagged tiger sharks. The team also compared that data with forty yearsworth of conventional tag and recapture data collected by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

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Scientists at the University of Miami studied tiger shark migration data and compared it with temperature changes in the ocean. (iStock)

Neil Hammerschlag, direct of the UM Shark Research and Conservation Program, said, “Tiger shark annual migrations have expanded poleward, paralleling rising water temperatures. These results have consequences for tiger shark conservation, since shifts in their movements outside of marine protected areas may leave them more vulnerable to commercial fishing.”

Hammerschlag, lead author on the study, explained that waters along the U.S. northeast coastline have typically been too cold for tiger sharks, but that is changing.

This presents several potential problems.

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As the ocean temperatures change, tiger sharks have been altering their migration patterns. This means that they are swimming further and further out of protected waters, putting them at risk of encountering commercial fishing vessels.

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Also, tiger sharks are apex predators. As they enter new areas of the ocean, this can cause a change in the ecological balance of the area. This may also result in more frequent encounters between humans and tiger sharks.

According to the study, for every one degree that ocean temperatures rise on average over the past decade, tiger shark migrations have moved about 250 miles poleward. The changes in the animal’s migration patterns have also caused them to start migrating to waters close to east coast of the U.S. earlier.