A 10-foot-3-inch great white shark is entering its third month of mysteriously pacing up and down the same stretch of coast off Virginia and North Carolina, and experts now have a theory.
OCEARCH began tracking the 564-pound apex predator’s strange coastal fixation in December, and the shark, named Shaw, was still there Monday. Shaw showed up on satellite at 4:13 a.m. off Cape Hatteras on the Outer Banks, tracking shows.
The nonprofit research agency believes this odd behavior may come down to a matter of ocean temperature, specifically a spot off Cape Hatteras known as the “faunal break.”
“The break is sort of a barrier, caused mainly by water temperature differences, that stops movement north or south for many species,” OCEARCH posted Monday on Facebook.
“White sharks usually cross it easily and spend the cooler months south of the break, but Shaw has been flirting with the line for over a month now.”
Other white sharks tagged by the nonprofit have “breezed past” the barrier, so OCEARCH isn’t sure why Shaw is so reluctant.
Some data collected by OCEARCH has suggested young sharks prefer to stay close to their nursery in the first two years of life. But Shaw is categorized as a “sub-adult,” not a juvenile, according to data collected Oct. 1, when he was tagged off Lunenburg, Nova Scotia.
OCEARCH is tracking white sharks as part of a project to pinpoint where they migrate, mate and give birth off the East Coast.
Trackers have revealed white sharks use the coast as a highway, from Nova Scotia to the Gulf of Mexico.