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Cluster of sharks in one spot off Carolinas coast grows more intense, and mysterious

The Charlotte Observer logo The Charlotte Observer 2/10/2020 By Mark Price, The Charlotte Observer
Satellite data shows the clustering off great white sharks off the Carolinas is growing more pronounced. Eight great white sharks are now one on top of the other near the state line. © (OCEARCH MAP/TNS) Satellite data shows the clustering off great white sharks off the Carolinas is growing more pronounced. Eight great white sharks are now one on top of the other near the state line.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The clustering of great white sharks off the Carolinas coast is growing more pronounced and mysterious, based on satellite tracking data shared Saturday on social media.

Eight tagged great white sharks are now practically on top of each other along the border of North and South Carolina — and they represent the only sharks currently tracking along the East Coast, according to a map posted on Facebook by OCEARCH.

“What do you think could be causing this big gap in where white sharks are pinging right now,” the nonprofit asked in its post. “There are pings in the Gulf of Mexico and then a big grouping in North Carolina/South Carolina but none in the middle.”

Researchers began noticing a convergence of great white sharks off the Carolinas in late January, but the group was more spread out.

Now the sharks are exhibiting a clear preference for the same spot off Southport, near Wilmington, the data shows.

OCEARCH says the tagged sharks, ranging in size from 8 feet to nearly 13 feet, represent a tiny sampling of what is actually off the coast, meaning waters could be full of great white sharks.

OCEARCH is a nonprofit that tags and tracks great white sharks as part of a study to determine where they mate and give birth to their young along the East Coast.

Experts have not offered a clear explanation for what is happening off the Carolinas, though researchers believe the sharks could have been driven north by warmer weather in Florida.

The coast off the Carolinas is known as a shark foraging area, but the animals typically feed as they travel along the coast to the Gulf of Mexico.

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