Research group to track and study great white sharks

A team of scientists departed North Carolina’s coast and followed white sharks as they summer in northern waters.

The research expedition, run by nonprofit OCEARCH, hopes to collect samples from white sharks to answer questions about where and when they mate. The researchers plan to gather blood samples to measure hormone levels, ultrasound data to evaluate the reproductive status of female sharks, and data about the presence of seminal fluid and mating wounds.

The research group tags every white shark it takes samples from in order to track the animal for years to come. OCEARCH has tagged 437 animals already, according to its website.

“Seeing the adults off the Outer Banks region is challenging, as they are spread out and ocean conditions can be rough,” said chief scientist Bob Hueter. “But we need data and samples from this part of the population to put the last pieces of the Western North Atlantic white shark puzzle into place.”

This trip is the latest expedition in the Western North Atlantic White Shark Study, the most comprehensive study of white sharks in the world, according to the organization. Through its various trips, the team has studied 88 sharks in the North Atlantic and hopes to reach its goal of 100 sharks by the end of this year’s trip.

The Outer Banks are the ideal place to track these animals, as data shows the sharks stop near the coast between April and June each year to load up on food before continuing their spring migration north.

Expedition Northbound departed from Wrightsville Beach on April 17 and returned on May 4.