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March 2022    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 48, No. 3   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Do Great Whites Mate off the Carolinas?

from the March, 2022 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Great white sharks may soon be mating off North and South Carolina coasts - and scientists are poised to investigate.

The sharks travel through Carolina waters as they migrate south from the northwest Atlantic during the winter, but new evidence suggests the area may be more critical to the species than previously thought.

You see, it's suspected great whites also go to the waters of the Carolinas to mate. Although mating has never been documented, large numbers of sharks congregating together would confirm the hypothesis.

After mating, it is believed male sharks go back to roaming the coasts looking for food, while the females move offshore before returning to the nurseries to give birth. Are some are these sharks mating or simply migrating through the area?

An ongoing study by Ocearch, aided by GPS satellite tags affixed to several sharks, indicates that young ones may remain along the Carolina coasts during winter. That adult sharks come to mate remains a theory since it has never been witnessed.

Researchers from Ocearch have embarked on a shark hunt that could make history. They will capture sharks to collect blood samples, get ultrasound images of the ovary and testes and take semen samples from mature males. The results will help determine if the adult white sharks present in the Carolinas region are mating.

If the theory is proven, it would mean North Carolina's coast is brimming with great white sharks for about two months out of the year.

So, if you are diving in that area this summer, keep an eye out for newly delivered pups that confirm you're in a great white shark nursery. It may prove the theory.

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