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Camera tag will add to research on great white sharks

cape cod sharks
Atlantic White Shark Conservancy

Researchers will use data collected from a camera tag that was attached to a great white shark off the coast of South Carolina to learn more about the species and its movements.

Megan Winton, a research scientist with the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy, tells CAI that tagging of great white sharks in northeast waters is a much more common occurrence, with about 50 sharks tagged.

But, in southern waters, it’s only the second time it has been accomplished.

“We've been using this technology to learn a lot about white shark behavior, particularly predatory behavior in nearshore beaches off Cape Cod,” Winton said.

Winton clamped the device to the dorsal fin of a 9-foot female white shark off the South Carolina coast. The camera tag includes sensors that record data on the shark’s movements and environment. After a day, the entire device detaches from the shark and floats to the surface, where it transmits its location via a GPS beacon so researchers can retrieve it.

The AWSC also deployed a fin-mounted satellite tag that will transmit the shark’s location to overhead satellites in real time when its dorsal fin breaks the water’s surface for the next year.

Winton said the female shark that was tagged was likely a visitor to Cape Cod waters.

“She had seal scratch marks on her. So when the sharks are feeding on seals the seals will fight back and will often leave scratch marks along the sides of the shark’s head and even down the body. And so she had seal scratches when we tagged her in December which means she had been somewhere up north, possibly off Cape Cod,” Winton said.

Winton said the research done in southern waters is “complementary” to the research done in the north.

“We know from historical records and tagging data collected over the past 15 years that the southeast US is an important overwintering habitat for white sharks,” said Winton. “But we don’t know that much about how they use the area exactly, or what it is they’re doing when they’re there.”

The AWSC has identified more than 700 white sharks since it began monitoring the population in 2014.

Learn more:

The AWSC recently updated its White Shark Catalog for 2024 population. The new shark will soon be available for tracking on AWSC’s Sharktivity app.

Follow AWSC on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok.


John Basile is the local host of All Things Considered weekday afternoons and a reporter.