USA TODAY US Edition
Tracking a great white along the Atlantic coast
A great white shark is making his rounds along the Atlantic seaboard.
The 1,000-pound shark, named Ironbound, traveled from off the coast of North and South Carolina in early April to New Jersey on April 28. The shark is now back off the North Carolina coast.
Measuring 12 feet, 4 inches, the male shark gets his name from West Ironbound Island near Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, where he was tagged by Ocearch, a nonprofit research group that tracks shark migration.
The shark’s travel pattern is typical for great white sharks this time of year, Bob Hueter, chief scientist at OCEARCH, told CNN. They spend summers in Canadian waters and return south around Florida for the winter.
But once Ironbound got to New Jersey, he may have hit some chilly water and did a Uturn.
“They hit that cold, cold water that’s trapped against the beach, and they’re like, ‘Oh man, it’s too early,’ ” explorer and Ocearch founder Chris Fischer told NBC News on Tuesday.
“They’ve got to wait for the water temperature to get warm enough so when they slide in there to eat the seals, that it’s not so cold that the energy to stay warm exceeds the energy they get from the seal.”
Ocearch’s tracking system recorded Ironbound off North Carolina’s Outer Banks at about 1 p.m. on Tuesday. Since Ocearch tagged him in October 2019, Ironbound has covered more than 13,400 miles.
Ironbound is probably about 20 years old, Hueter told CNN, but he isn’t the biggest shark Ocearch has tagged. The group has tagged great white sharks as long as 171⁄2 feet and weighing 4,000 pounds.
“I remember him. I was on board when we got him,” Hueter told the Boston Herald last week. “He was a formidable male, and definitely not the prettiest animal we’ve ever gotten. Menacing-looking almost.”
Even though most great whites don’t depart the southern waters until mid- to lateMay, it’s not surprising Ironbound headed north early, Hueter told the Herald.
“He’s been through the wars and knows what he’s doing by making the move earlier than the rest of them.”