Gathering of great white sharks — some 13 feet long — tracked off NC’s Outer Banks
Seven large great white sharks have converged off North Carolina, according to satellite trackers monitored by the nonprofit OCEARCH.
The apex predators range in size from 7 to 13 feet, and they are lingering along 250 miles of coastline, from Pea Island south to Carolina Beach, according to a Shark Tracker page.
By coincidence, the gathering is happening during Spring break for U.S. colleges, which peaks “the last two weeks of March,” according to Springbreak.com.
The largest of the sharks is a 13-foot, 3-inch male named Breton who weighs 1,437 pounds. He was tagged in 2020 off Nova Scotia and has since traveled just over 24,000 miles, records show.
“This mature male white shark is joined by many of our juvenile sharks who have spent the last few weeks in the same region,” OCEARCH said in a Facebook post.
“This is also the area we plan to be at next month during Expedition Northbound. Many of our animals use the productive continental shelf waters around the Outer Banks, NC as a spring staging area before making their migration north for their summer residency.”
Locations of the sharks are known from satellite tags attached to their fins as part of an OCEARCH project to study shark migrations.
Barrier islands along North Carolina are suspected to be a hot spot where the white sharks gather and mate. The area is also unique as a point where northbound and southbound currents collide, bringing along plenty of prey for sharks, OCEARCH says.
OCEARCH research has shown white sharks make “predictable annual migrations” from Newfoundland into the Gulf of Mexico.
“The sharks spend summer and fall primarily in coastal waters off New England and Atlantic Canada, feeding on high-calorie prey such as seals, before heading back south to warmer winter waters off the southeast U.S. from South Carolina to the Gulf of Mexico,” OCEARCH says.
“White sharks demonstrate strong site fidelity, with individuals returning to the same location in multiple years, suggesting these animals use complex navigational cues to migrate over thousands of miles every year.”
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