Great White Sharks Gather Off the Coasts of Virginia and North Carolina

A number of great white sharks have been tracked off the coasts of North Carolina and Virginia in recent weeks. Since November 18, seven great whites have been recorded in the waters off the two states, with four appearing just outside Pamlico Sound lagoon.

The sharks are being monitored by OCEACH, an organization that tracks ocean creatures using satellite data.

The team catches sharks, including great whites, and fits them with satellite equipment. Whenever sharks fitted with a tracker breach the surface, the device sends out a ping to provide OCEARCH with their location.

In a tweet, OCEARCH said a juvenile shark it has named Santiago pinged off the coast of Norfolk, Virginia. "Many of our sharks seem to use this region when heading south," the tweet said.

Santiago is a young shark measuring just under six feet and weighing 140lbs. He was first tagged in August in the Nantucket Shoals. He stayed around this area until October 19, when he started swimming southwards.

Also off the coast of Virginia is Olympia, a 7.15ft great white that weighs about 190lbs. She first pinged to the east of Cape Cod and, like Santiago, remained in this region until October 24. At this point she also started making her way south.

The four great whites that have gathered off Pamlico Sound include Ironbound, a 12ft male weighing almost 1,000lbs, and Tuck, an 8ft, 3,00lb male. Until the end of October, Ironbound had been swimming around Nova Scotia, while Tuck had been in the Gulf of Maine.

The other two sharks are Martha, a 7ft female, and Sarah, a 9ft 8in great white. Sarah started moving south from Nova Scotia at the end of September, moving along the east coast. Martha moved from the Gulf of Maine southwards, sticking relatively close to the shore.

The last of the great whites to ping in this area was Beacon, an 8ft 7in male that last surfaced on November 18. He had started moving south from the Nantucket Shoals around October 20.

Sharks gathering in this region, which OCEARCH dubs the Northwest Atlantic Shared Foraging Area, appears to be a "winter hotspot" for great whites.

The area stretches between Cape Canaveral in Florida to Cape Hatteras in North Carolina, and OCEARCH says it has consistently tracked large white sharks to this region during the winter months.

Following a successful tagging expedition in 2019, lead scientist Bryan Franks said in a statement: "This trip is more evidence that this area along the continental shelf from South Carolina to Florida is an important winter habitat for white sharks."

great white shark
Stock photo of a great white shark. Several sharks have started migrating southwards to the coasts of Virginia and North Carolina, satellite data shows. Getty Images