By Michelle Wagner | Outer Banks Voice on November 15, 2019
It turns out that Cabot, a 500-lb. great white shark tracked by Ocearch, did not pay a visit to the Albemarle Sound on Wednesday night, according to the ocean research organization’s founder, Chris Fischer.
Fischer told the Voice that a low-quality ping from the satellite-linked tracker on Cabot’s dorsal fin made it appear that the shark had found its way into the estuarine waters not far from Point Harbor, resulting in reports of his apparent and curious location. A higher quality ping on Thursday morning, however, showed that the shark – named after explorer John Cabot – was in the Atlantic Ocean not far off Kitty Hawk.
Fischer noted that the Wednesday night ping showed up on Ocearch’s online shark tracker and was reported by several news agencies.
“We are watching sharks all the time, and get different ping qualities,” he said. “We got a ping [in the Albemarle Sound] that was lower quality…When we saw the high-quality ping out [in the Atlantic], we knew we were right.”
He added that, “While Cabot wasn’t in the sound, I don’t think that is something new…They do go into the sounds and have since the beginning of time…we just know it now.”
The longer the shark’s fin is out of the water, the better the quality of the ping, Fischer explained. He added that shark enthusiasts can check Ocearch’s social media sites to confirm a shark’s location. “You’ll know it’s a real ping if you find it on” Ocearch’s media posts, he noted.
As of Friday evening, Nov. 15, Fischer said Cabot was a couple miles off of Southern Shores and Duck. Tagged in Nova Scotia in 2018, the male shark is among just over 50 great white sharks currently being tracked by Ocearch in the North Atlantic.
“It is great people are following the sharks and are so excited to share the information, we are learning so much,” Fischer said, adding that the group is continually gathering information about mating spots, birthing areas and other important behaviors of the great white shark.
Ocearch began tagging great white sharks along the East Coast in 2011. “This is the first time in history we are learning what their migratory pattern is… we still get surprised when the shark goes somewhere didn’t expect.”
He pointed out that the waters off the Outer Banks are a key spot when it comes to the shark’s migration. “The waters off the Outer Banks are where the baby white sharks overwinter – one of the critical points of management,” he said. “It’s a really special place and if we don’t get it right there, we don’t get the whole North Atlantic right.”
As for the uneasy feeling their presence in nearby waters may create, “We’ve been swimming with them all their lives. We even dress up like their food and still, they almost never make a mistake,” noted Fischer, referring to the resemblance between people in wetsuits and seals.
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