Great White Shark Tracked Extremely Close to North Carolina Coast

An online shark tracker displaying information about several tagged great white sharks off the east coast of North America shows that a number of them have surfaced this week, revealing their locations. One of them was a young juvenile seen close to North Carolina.

The shark tracker is enabled by Ocearch, a non-profit group that tags sea animals in order to collect data on them that can be passed on to scientists.

Using a ship called the M/V Ocearch, Ocearch staff lift sea animals such as sharks out of the water with a hydraulic platform. Once animals are restrained and a flow of seawater is passed over their gills, the staff then attach tags and take blood and tissue samples. The animals are then returned to the water.

Great white shark
A stock photo shows a great white shark seen at Guadalupe Island, Mexico. In the Atlantic Ocean, the animals migrate up and down the North American coast. BELOW_SURFACE/Getty

Among the 432 animals that have been tagged by Ocearch are many great white sharks. Whenever one of these sharks breaks the surface of the water, its trackers will sometimes "ping" its location.

According to the Ocearch website, at least four of the great white sharks it has tagged have been pinged off the U.S. east coast this week.

On Tuesday, a great white known as Martha broke the surface of the water just off the coast of North Carolina near Oregon Inlet.

A female, Martha is a juvenile and relatively small shark measuring 7 feet in length when she was studied in August 2020, off Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

The map does not specify distance, but Google Maps suggests the shark was approximately 10 miles off the coast.

Within hours, a much larger adult male named Mahone surfaced many miles away, not too far south of Newfoundland, Canada. Mahone measured 13 feet and 7 inches when studied in October 2020, off Nova Scotia.

Mahone was closely followed by Tancook, a juvenile great white who surfaced off the coast of New Jersey a couple of hours later. Tancook measured around 9.75 feet when studied and weighed an estimated 715 pounds. He was tagged in September last year near Nova Scotia.

Finally, there was Rose, a female juvenile who was pinged on Wednesday roughly near the border of South Carolina and Georgia. She measured 10 feet and 5 inches when she was caught near Nova Scotia in October 2020.

Sharks in the Atlantic Ocean migrate up and down the North American coast every year, spending summers in northern waters near Canada and winters further south towards the Gulf of Mexico, Bob Hueter, chief scientist at Ocearch, told CNN earlier this month.

Great white sharks, also known simply as white sharks, are one of the largest species of shark in the world. They can grow up to around 20 feet in length, though the average size for a female is smaller at around 15 to 16 feet and 11 to 13 feet for a male, according to the Smithsonian Institution.