OCEARCH conducts shark research expedition off of Ocracoke

By on April 24, 2023

By Joy Crist | Island Free Press
Video from OCEARCH

OCEARCH, a non-profit organization that conducts research on sharks around the globe, is in the middle of its 45th ocean research expedition to learn more about these animals as they begin to leave the Carolinas region and transition north for the summer.

“Our data shows that prior to their spring migration north, many white sharks use the productive continental shelf waters around the Outer Banks, North Carolina region as an overwintering and spring staging area before heading farther north,” stated OCEARCH in a summary of the expedition. “From April to June each year, both male and female sharks can be found in this area in significant numbers, likely taking advantage of the ample food supply to fuel their migration to summer feeding grounds.”

The OCEARCH expedition has been concentrating on the waters off of Ocracoke Island, where they are “seeing white sharks every day,” per a video update on the first week of the expedition.

“It’s the closest place on the coast that gets you closest to the Gulf Stream,” said Christian Purcell, OCEARCH Leaderman, in the video update. “So we can get from Gulf Stream-temperature water to 64 degrees in a couple of miles.”

As of Saturday, April 22, the OCEARCH team had sample tagged and released three sharks during Expedition Northbound, bringing the tally up to 91 in their Western North Atlantic White Shark Study.

The Western North Atlantic White Shark Study, which is being conducted via multiple trips including the current expedition, is collecting data for over 24 science projects that will paint a clearer picture of the life history of the white shark in the western North Atlantic Ocean. The team hopes this ongoing expedition will help them reach their goal of 100 sharks sampled, tagged, and released in this region by the end of 2023.

Expedition Northbound is taking place from April 17 – May 4, and the public can obtain updates via https://www.ocearch.org/ and https://www.facebook.com/OCEARCH.

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  • Glenn

    Very cool! Fascinating creatures!

    Monday, Apr 24 @ 8:21 pm
  • Michael Fosdick

    That’s just cool!! I go to Ocracoke several times a year an stay at either Blackbeard’s Lodge or The Pony Island Inn!! Doesn’t bother me at all. I love sharks 🦈!!

    Friday, Apr 28 @ 7:45 pm