Great White Sharks: Migratory Patterns off NC Coast
Like the rest of us, great white sharks like spending their winters down south along the Carolina coast. And some even stay into early summer. As WHQR reports, researchers from OCEARCH recently completed their North Atlantic White Shark Study – and are gathering new insights about the animals’ behavior.
The waters of the Outer Banks are an attractive place for marine life – including great white sharks. It’s where the Gulf Stream – a warm water current meets the cold northern Labrador current. These conditions make favorable feeding – and possibly breeding grounds. Where and when whites mate is still a mystery plaguing scientists:
"We believe that they’re likely mating sometime in spring/early summer. But that’s unknown. That’s just a hypothesis."
That’s Bryan Franks. He’s an assistant professor of marine science at Jacksonville University. He just got back from an expedition that tags great white sharks. Last year, they tagged four whites in the South Atlantic.
“This is a 15 foot animal that I’m working on and usually it’s not until I’m finished with what I need to do that I can take a step back and really see it for what it is.”
This year, unfortunately, because of inconsistent water temperatures and wind conditions none were tagged.
But sharks that are tagged can be tracked in real time on an interactive website run by OCEARCH, a marine scientific research organization. They’ve been following some of the whites for about 6 years.
Again, Bryan Franks:
“Knowledge is power and being able to educate people on what these animals are doing, and it’s likely they’ve always been here doing this, just going about their daily lives. We just didn’t know it. You know it was hidden from us in the past.”
With the North Carolina coast along the great whites’ migratory route, researchers will return to tag more sharks early next year.