North Carolina

Where do great white sharks show up most? Outer Banks is near the top, scientists say

OCEARCH tags great white shark ‘Miss May’

OCEARCH researchers tag great white shark "Miss May" on Feb. 15, 2019, near Fernandina Beach, Florida. She is named after nearby Mayport, FL , which will soon be the future home of a joint Jacksonville University and OCEARCH facility.
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OCEARCH researchers tag great white shark "Miss May" on Feb. 15, 2019, near Fernandina Beach, Florida. She is named after nearby Mayport, FL , which will soon be the future home of a joint Jacksonville University and OCEARCH facility.

There are two hot spots where great white sharks surface, data from the shark tracking organization OCEARCH shows. The first is the waters off Cape Cod in Massachusetts, scene of the Jaws movies. But the second is in the ocean around North Carolina’s Outer Banks, the data shows.

“Not a big surprise to see the Cape Cod area, but check out North Carolina, South Carolina & Georgia!” OCEARCH tweeted.

The organization tags sharks and has an interactive map so people can see how the predators migrate along the East Coast. Each time a shark swims near the surface, their tracking device pings a satellite with the location.

The biggest concentration of great white shark pings is off Cape Cod, with 1,641 hits from the shark trackers. Coming in second is a concentration off North Carolina’s Outer Banks, with 1,148 pings, according to a map from OCEARCH.

The area around Hilton Head, South Carolina and Savannah Georgia is pretty high on the list, too, coming in fourth with 952 pings from great white sharks.

There are scientific reasons big sharks are attracted to the area off the Carolinas.

OCEARCH explained earlier this year that the currents from the Gulf Stream can “stir up lots of nutrients and by being on the edge of the stream, the sharks have access to a wide range of water temperatures.”

All those nutrients getting kicked up along the stream mean lots of fish for the big sharks to eat, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

OCEARCH is a research vessel and at-sea laboratory that generates critical data to expand behavioral and ecological research on the large predators in the North Atlantic Ocean.

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Charles Duncan covers what’s happening right now across North and South Carolina, from breaking news to fun or interesting stories from across the region. He holds degrees from N.C. State University and Duke and lives two blocks from the ocean in Myrtle Beach.
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