Scientists plan to capture, tag and release great white sharks off the S.C. coast later this month.
The scientists say they have learned a lot since first placing satellite tags on great white sharks several years ago, but they need more information. To get that data, they need to tag more sharks in Southeastern waters.
OCEARCH, a nonprofit research group, will be tagging sharks off Hilton Head in late January, the group said Friday.
A key question is why some great white sharks that frequent Southeastern waters travel to Canada sometimes while others do not, according to OCEARCH.
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“Previous data collected shows that OCEARCH’s mature Lowcountry white sharks and most of OCEARCH’s mature Cape Cod white sharks have differing paths,” the group said in a news release. “The team is returning to gather data that will help researchers understand the habitat use of the Lowcountry white shark vs. the Cape Cod white shark.”
Great white sharks are perhaps the most feared predators in the ocean. They typically range in size from 11 to 16 feet long but can grow to as long as 20 feet.
Brian Frazier, a fisheries biologist with the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, said OCEARCH’s satellite tracking has been enlightening.
Great white sharks have been shown to swim closer to the S.C. shore during the winter than previously known, Frazier said. The group also has found more of the sharks in S.C. waters during the summer than researchers expected, although they are farther off shore at that time, he said.
“We always thought of it as kind of an open ocean shark that made forays to the coast in the winter months,” Frazier told The State newspaper. “What we are seeing is they are pretty strongly coastal and make forays into the open ocean.”
Frazier said another research organization in the northeastern U.S. is conducting a census of great white sharks that could provide more information about the massive sea creatures.