Thanks to the shark tracking folks at OCEARCH we now know what we’ve pretty much already known. There are sharks in OBX swimming off the Outer Banks coast.
No need to panic, though. As far as we can tell, the sharks in OBX that are being tracked have stayed a good ten mile and more offshore.
In the month of April, three males and one female great white shark pinged a signal letting the world know where they were. The latest was a signal from Jane about 20 miles east of Rodanthe.
The Sharks in OBX by Name
Jane is still considered fairly small—under 600 pounds and a sub-adult. That’s a real contrast to the male sharks who sent out a signal earlier this month.
There is Cabot who was 9’8” and 533 pounds when he was tagged last fall. Jefferson was 12’7”, but OCEARCH didn’t list a weight. And finally Hal at 12’6” and 1420 pounds. All of them were tagged off Nova Scotia last fall.
That may sound intimidating, but the fact is the movement of the sharks is a normal migratory pattern. As the waters of the North Atlantic become colder, the sharks in OBX migrate to the south. As the waters warm, the swim north again.
It’s pretty rare to actually see a great white shark from the Outer Banks. They really are farther out to sea than can normally be seen from the shoreline.
What the sharks are doing is swimming through the upwelling of ocean currents along the continental shelf. As the Gulf Stream and Labrador Currents pass over the shallower seabed, fish and nutrient-rich waters are forced into the water column. It’s sort of a fast food wonderland for the sharks.
Nonetheless, they will keep heading north and by the summer, the great whites will probably be swimming in the waters off the Canadian Maritimes.