CHARLOTTE, N.C. — A 7-foot-5-inch-long mako shark tagged last year off Texas appeared Wednesday morning off North Carolina’s Outer Banks.
His tracker pinged at 7:48 a.m. in the waters off Hatteras, a popular tourist area on the Cape Hatteras National Seashore, reports OCEARCH, a shark research organization.
The shark is a known as Pico among researchers, and it weighed about 200 pounds when fitted with a tracker off Port Aransas, Texas, on March 14, 2018, according to the OCEARCH website. Pico was tagged by Harte Research Institute’s Center for Sportfish Science and Conservation at Texas A&M, officials said.
The shark has traveled more than 14,400 miles in 16 months, at times at speeds of up to 100 miles a day, researchers say.
OCEARCH noted Pico was “making some very interesting moves” last year, tracking in areas the agency had previously not tracked makos in, according to a 2018 Facebook post. “He’s the first mako we’ve tracked out of the Gulf of Mexico and into the Atlantic,” the organization tweeted.
The news comes at a time of heightened awareness of sharks off the Carolinas, after three reported attacks this summer. One of the shark attacks cost a teenager a leg and some fingers, The Charlotte Observer reported.
A fourth shark bite involving a Virginia radio host was reported earlier this month, but has not been confirmed by authorities in Sunset Beach, McClatchy newspapers reported July 18.
Experts have not confirmed the type of sharks involved in any of the attacks off North Carolina.
Makos are considered among the fastest sharks, capable of a steady 51 mph, and can grow up to more than 12 feet in length, according to Sharks-World.com.
This marks the second time Pico has been tracked traveling out of the Gulf of Mexico and up the east coast, OCEARCH reported July 12. “It looks like mako shark Pico’s trip from Texas to New York last year wasn’t a fluke. He surprised us by making the journey last summer and now it looks like he is on his way again,” a tweet said.
Marine researchers from across the nation are studying the movements of sharks off the Carolinas, in search of data on where they mate, raise their young and feed, according to a July 2018 story in the Charlotte Observer.
Great white sharks are known to linger off the Carolinas for feeding purposes, OCEARCH reported in March. They are attracted by nutrient-rich areas — called upwellings — that occur along the fringe of the Gulf Stream, researchers say.
Upwelling is caused when coastline winds push water away from beaches, allowing “deeper, colder, nutrient-rich water” to rise and take its place, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administra