Real Life Jaws: Sharks Spotted Off the Outer Banks Coast

Great White Shark

Live Science

Great White Shark "Luna" is spotted off of the shore of the Outer Banks.

Caroline Austin, Staff 2018-2019

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As Memorial Day approaches, people from all around the country  are loading up their family cars and heading wherever the water is wet. For many Americans, Memorial Day marks the official start of the summer season. However, for tourists spending the weekend at North Carolina’s Outer Banks, they may be in for a shocking surprise.

A cluster of Great White Sharks have been spotted approximately 100 miles off the coast of the Outer Banks. While that may sound like plenty of distance, experts say it’s still a bit too close for comfort. Catching the attention of shark experts at OCEARCH research facility is Luna, a fifteen foot long, 2, 137 pound Great White Shark. Experts say that it’s very rare to see female sharks to close to the coast, and so far North, this time of year. The shark is from Nova Scotia and seemed to be headed towards Florida, a popular shark breeding destination this time of year. She then surprised researchers by making a u-turn and heading straight for North Carolina’s most popular part of the coast just in time for Memorial Day. The shark’s behavior may be attributed to warming ocean waters. Luna is accompanied by several other, smaller sharks, She is the oldest of the group and is being followed by juvenile sharks most likely looking to mate. Though sharks are notorious for violent attacks on unsuspecting beachgoers, they do not set out with malicious intent. Often times shark attacks can be attributed to human encroachment on feeding grounds, forcing them to search farther inland for food.

So what does this mean for Memorial Day vacationers? North Carolina’s department of tourism will keep shark spotter planes flying to keep track of the sharks’ proximity to the shore. At the same time, lifeguards are encouraging tourists to listen to posted warnings, stay alert in the water, and stay out of the water during prime shark feeding hours (at dawn and dusk.)