CHARLESTON, SC (WCIV) — Three great white sharks recently were located off the South Carolina coast.
Miss Costa, Hal and Gray Lady were tagged with GPS locators years ago by OCEARCH, a shark tracking non-profit group.
Founder Chris Fischer leads the GPS tagging expeditions, and said the shark’s arrival in Lowcountry waters is right on time.
“They live off the coast of the Carolinas basically between Cape Canaveral and Cape Hatteras for the majority of winter into the spring,” said Fisher.
OCEARCH was founded in 2007 and started Atlantic tagging expeditions in 2012. Since then, they’ve tagged 33 white sharks in Atlantic waters.
Fisher said the data collected has helped them uncover mating, birthing and feeding patterns, behaviors that have long been a mystery.
“I think there’s a lot of white sharks in the [Carolina] region now,” he said. “I think the sharks pinging off your beaches is a representation that there are many, many more, right? We don’t have all of the white sharks tagged.”
Nearly two years ago, two notable white sharks were tagged off the South Carolina coast.
Hilton and Savannah were both found and tagged around Hilton Head.
The OCEARCH digital team creates a Twitter account for each shark tagged and named, which helps garner interest in each shark's whereabouts.
Sharks may get a bad rap, but Fischer said fear of them is largely unfounded, and adds that these apex predators play a vital role in maintaining a healthy ecosystem and food chain supply.
“It’s a great sign,” said Fisher. “It means you’re managing your ocean well, it’s full of life and they’re coming in to balance it and take out the weak, the dead and dying, so the stronger ones can make more fish for all of us and our grandchildren to eat.”
OCEARCH will begin a new tagging expedition in February focusing on the Atlantic coast from Myrtle Beach down to Jacksonville, Florida.