NAGS HEAD — 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 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.
Social media users have speculated on what might be causing the sharks to cluster. Ideas include the possibility that sharks are chasing a sudden wealth of food or following the noise of beach replenishment projects along the coast.
Some people have even wondered if the sharks are exhibiting a sixth sense of something bad in the making.