There’s Not More Sharks on the East Coast, There’s More Tagged Sharks

“Sharks are Amassing the East Coast” is what a viral tweet stated on December 1, 2021 along with a zoomed out photo of our shark tracker. Is there an unusual amount of sharks actually making their way to the East Coast of the United States and Canada? No. Are there more tagged sharks on the OCEARCH Global Shark Tracker in this region? Yes. 

We have been studying white sharks globally since 2007 and the Western North Atlantic white shark since 2012, tagging and sampling white sharks up and down the eastern coasts of the United States and Canada. This is why our recently tagged sharks are in this area. There are not more white sharks in this region, just more tagged sharks that we can track on the OCEARCH Global Shark Tracker. 

Reporters from the Miami Herald, NBC News, and Gizmodo explain this further in recent articles covering the tweet.

The Western North Atlantic white sharks are currently on the move as they migrate south from their summer feeding aggregation off of New England and Nova Scotia to their winter residency off the Southeast United States, from the Carolinas to the Gulf of Mexico.

Over the past 9 years we have tagged 83 sharks in this region, creating an unprecedented database for the 24 science projects in our Western North Atlantic White Shark Study. One of the projects in our study looks into the telemetry or movement studies of the white sharks in this region. In a recent peer-reviewed paper authored by our team and collaborators we see these movements described for the first time. It highlights their migration patterns and insights on their nursery and mating grounds.

We’re putting a stake in the ground for climate change, because we’re documenting the movement of the sharks now. Then, 10 years from now, or 20 years from now, we’ll be able to do a project like this again and see if there’s been any shift in their migration. We’re creating that baseline data right now,” OCEARCH Founder and Expedition Leader Chris Fischer said. The paper is published in the open access Frontiers in Marine Science online journal and is downloadable here. 

Our Western North Atlantic White Shark Study is currently 83% complete, with just 17 sharks left to complete our goal of 100 sharks tagged, sampled and released in the region.

You can track these sharks in real time on the OCEARCH Global Shark Tracker.

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