Hang On! Here Come the Great Whites!

As the weather turns cold, great whites start their annual pilgrimage south.

Great white shark Freya
Freya the shark when she was first captured. Courtesy Ocearch

Tagged white sharks are now moving out of Northeast coastal waters of the U.S. for their annual pilgrimage to sunny Florida, according to marine researchers with the nonprofit Ocearch foundation.

Ocearch live-captures sharks, especially white sharks, measures them, sonic tags them, and monitors their movements for up to five years.

According to the Florida Sun Sentinel, an 11-foot, 8-inch, 883-pound female white shark named “Freya” recently was located via an Ocearch sonic tag a few miles offshore Hobe Sound, located just north of West Palm Beach, Fla.

Scientists who have tracked “Freya” believe she will be in that area for several months.

Freya was caught and tagged Mar. 2021 off Wilmington, N.C., then moved north that year to summer near Nantucket and Cape Code, presumably feasting on seals.

By late summer 2021, Freya swam north to the Gulf of Maine. Then by early autumn began her migration south toward Florida.

Freya had reached Miami in autumn 2021, and started moving to the Florida Keys where she enjoyed the warm and rich waters of the Gulf Stream.

By Feb. 2022, Freya was headed north again, swimming into the Carolinas, liking spring weather near Pamlico Sound, close to the Outer Banks of North Carolina.

Like other oversize sharks Ocearch monitors, Freya summered in the North, traveling all the way to Cabot Strait, in eastern Canada.

Ocearch reports Freya has traveled over 7,500 miles in two years of observing her.
Other white sharks Ocearch monitors follow much the same pattern, though some sharks travel around the state into the Gulf of Mexico.

One tagged white shark in autumn 2020 migrated around Florida, into the Gulf, settling into the waters off the Mississippi River. The shark covered 4,300 miles in 471 days.

A September study published by Ocearch that monitored 48 white sharks revealed that the animals follow similar migration patterns and locations throughout the year, every year.

Read Next: Great White Sharks in the Northeast—As Common as Sunburn

In September, Ocearch published a study of migration patterns of 48 white sharks they tagged along the east coast. The study indicates that white sharks are habitual, using the same sites, at the same times, every year.

White sharks can raise body temperatures to compensate for lower water temperatures. But this ability doesn’t seem to greatly influence their migration patterns. Food and its ready availability more likely is the reason for white shark seasonal, wide-ranging travel, say experts.

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