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Tribune News Service
Tribune News Service
Cianna Morales

A shark party is happening off the Outer Banks: Here’s a rundown of who’s there

There’s something in the water off the Outer Banks, and that something is a lot of sharks.

The nonprofit research organization Ocearch recorded several pings for nine sharks off the Outer Banks of North Carolina in the last month.

According to Ocearch, sharks use the continental shelf waters around the Outer Banks as a staging area before heading north to waters around Nova Scotia later in the summer. Shark activity off North Carolina’s coast typically surges from April through June as they take advantage of the food supply to prepare for migration to summer feeding grounds.

Meet some of the sharks at the Outer Banks right now:

Jekyll pinged early Friday morning in Raleigh Bay. He’s an 8-foot male white shark who weighs 395 pounds. He was named for Jekyll Island, Georgia, near where he was tagged in December.

Breton is a 13-foot adult male white shark who weighs over 1,400 pounds. He was named after Cape Breton in Nova Scotia, where he was tagged in 2020. His latest ping was Tuesday, roughly 15 miles off Hatteras Island.

Frosty, a male white shark who is 8 feet long, pinged Thursday near Breton’s last known location. He was tagged in December off St. Simon’s Island, Georgia, and during an expedition to understand sharks’ winter habits. He was named to celebrate the season.

Martha, a female white shark who’s 7 feetand 188 pounds, named for Martha’s Vineyard, pinged Wednesday. Ormond, a 9-foot male white shark, named for Ormond Beach, Florida, pinged Tuesday.

Crystal, Andromache, Simon and Gladee also made appearances in March.

Ocearch tags sharks by bringing them aboard a research vessel with a hydraulic platform that lifts marine animals out of the ocean. While the shark is on board, a research team tags the animal and collects samples in roughly 15 minutes.

Tags are attached to the shark’s front dorsal fin. The tags activate when the sharks crest the surface of the water, which sends a satellite signal to determine the shark’s location. The tags can track sharks over five years and thousands of miles.

Tags send a z-ping when they haven’t been out of the water long enough to triangulate the shark’s location.

An Ocearch Northbound Expedition will take place April 17 through May 4 and will study sharks in the North Atlantic ocean. The expedition will collect data for over 24 research projects, including one that will use the shark’s routes to better understand how animals respond to seasonal shifts in the ocean. Another project will determine the extent to which sharks are impacted by microplastics. A third will look at sharks’ innate immunity to some bacteria and apply findings to research on antibiotic-resistant bacteria.

Ocearch is 12 sharks away from its goal to sample, tag and release 100 sharks in the region.


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