Smmothhound Dogfish–common in North Carolina waters.

The Coastal Studies Institute over on Roanoke Island is part research center, part university—it’s affiliated with ECU and the rest of the NC university system—and a great place to learn about the local environment.

They just started doing a monthly series, “Science on the Sound,” where an expert in their field talks about what’s happening in the sounds.

The first one was about sharks in the sounds of North Carolina. 

The good news, according to Chuck Bangley, a doctorl student at ECU, is anyone who encounters a shark in the sound will most likely meet a dogfish—which is a shark. A shark with almost no teeth, and not to large, but they are considered sharks.

The smooth hound dogfish is by far the most common, with the spiny dogfish a distant second. There are some other sharks that visit the sounds from time to time, but for the most part, they stay relatively close to the inlets—they don’t like brackish or fresh water—and they very rarely enter water that’s less than 5’ in depth.

They are also, as it turns out, very seasonal . . . except for the smooth hound dogfish that never seems to go away. Sandbar sharks spawn in the Chesapeake Bay then overwinter in North Carolina waters.

Almost all of the sharks found in Outer Banks sounds have been seen in the Pamlico Sound. Sightings of sharks north of Roanoke Island are very rare.