For the last couple weeks there have been numerous pings on the OCEARCH of Great White Sharks hanging around the coast of Myrtle Beach. A ping is when a shark breaches the surface of the water and if they stay above the water long enough, their tracking devices will send a signal to the satellite dish that will show their exact location.
OCEARCH is a data-centric organization built to help scientists collect previously unattainable data in the ocean. According to their website, their mission is “to accelerate the ocean’s return to balance and abundance, through fearless innovations in scientific research, education, outreach, and policy, using unique collaborations of individuals and organizations in the U.S. and abroad.”
The four Great White Sharks vary in size, age and gender. Jefferson is of two adult males that measures 12ft 7in long. Hal, the other adult male, measures at 12ft 6in long. Luna, is the lone female and measure 15ft long and weighs up to 2131lbs.
Recently (include date). pinged Gurney a juvenile male 4.5ft long Great White Shark. It is not unusual that many sharks including Great Whites hang off the coast of South Carolina since they are migratory animals.
Rachel Hildebrand, a junior studying marine science and the President of the Coastal Elasmobranch Society, explains the main reason why there are more and more sharks pinging off the Carolina coast.
“These sharks are around is because we are apart their migratory routes,” said Hildebrand.
Not only does OCEARCH tag sharks but they also tag sea turtles, dolphins, whales, seals, and even dolphins.
However, Hildebrand states that “it is also not very clear yet why they chose these routes.”
One of the many mysteries that surrounds great whites is their mating habits. Researchers have long wondered where these animals go to give birth either but scientists here on the Grand Strand are now trying to figure out the main reason why they keep coming so close to shore could be because their prey is in this location.
Dr. Dan Abel, a marine science professor at Coastal who’s research focuses on shark biology, says that there are “potential dangers and it’s a minimal risk and we can weigh and measure risks of our everyday lives”.
Great Whites have been known to bite people, but they typically don’t consume them, and they mistake us as their prey. They will come back and eat them when the sharks see they don’t pose any sort of danger to them. However, when they do come back and bite us it can be too late.
“We don’t even know what they are even eating down here they maybe even eating whale carcasses, but we don’t know about their diet habits,” said Abel.
The likelihood of being attacked or bitten by a shark is very low likely to happen. If you are in the water knowing that there are sharks in the water it is best to be calm because if you are calm they will leave you alone, and if you don’t swim where their prey is the likely hood of being attacked will be low which would keep a healthy ecosystem in the ocean.
As warmer temperatures in our area start the increase of more beach visits from residents, students and tourists alike, remember to always be mindful of when you enter the water and be safe while enjoying your time at the beach.