OCEARCH, a non-profit organization that conducts research on sharks around the globe, has just completed its 45th ocean research expedition – Expedition Northbound – which took place off the coast of Ocracoke Island.
“Our data shows that prior to their spring migration north, many white sharks use the productive continental shelf waters around the Outer Banks, North Carolina region as an overwintering and spring staging area before heading farther north,” stated OCEARCH in a summary of the expedition. “From April to June each year, both male and female sharks can be found in this area in significant numbers, likely taking advantage of the ample food supply to fuel their migration to summer feeding grounds.”
Expedition Northbound took place from April 17 – May 4. The team embarked from Wrightsville Beach, N.C., and had their first day of fishing in the southern N.C. region before heading north to Ocracoke.
“We were able to sample, tag, and release four white sharks: Umi, Anne Bonny, Ocracoke, and Penny,” said Paige Finney, Communications Specialist for OCEARCH. “We are still waiting for a high-quality ping from Umi before getting her on the [shark] tracker.”
The team spent the first week of the expedition approximately 10-12 miles off the Ocracoke coast and spent most of the second half of the expedition in or close to Morehead City, due to weather conditions.
“This was our first time having a good weather window in the region off Ocracoke/Hatteras,” said Finney. “We have been wanting to fish in this area for years, but this was the first time our expedition dates aligned with good enough weather in the area.”
The Ocracoke trip helped collect data for the Western North Atlantic White Shark Study.
The study, (which is being conducted via multiple expeditions), is collecting data for over 24 science projects that will paint a clearer picture of the life history of the white shark in the western North Atlantic Ocean.
The team hopes to reach its goal of 100 sharks sampled, tagged, and released in this region by the end of 2023. The Expedition Northbound trip has added to this goal, bringing the tally to 92 sharks tagged so far in the ongoing study.
For more information on Expedition Northbound, including videos of the trip, click on the links below.