As a recent series of shark attacks have kept beachgoers out of the surf off North Carolina this holiday weekend, a much larger animal, a great white named Katharine, has taken up a temporary residence off the Outer Banks as she travels north with the warming currents.
Katharine is one of the most popular sharks tracked by the non-profit group Ocearch. Equipped with a satellite transponder that relays her position whenever her dorsal fin breaks the surface, Katharine has been followed by an ever-growing fan base since she was first tagged in 2013. Though researchers first found her in Cape Cod, the white shark has traveled the entire length of the East Coast several times, even entering the Gulf of Mexico before returning northward in the ensuing years. This past January, Katharine logged her 10,000th mile of travel since she was first recorded, as USA Today noted.
— OCEARCH (@OCEARCH) July 4, 2015
Over the past few weeks, the white shark has been steadily moving northward along the coast, and now she appears to have settled in off North Carolina. Though Katharine is known for remaining near the surface and signaling often, the shark has only “pinged” a few times in the last month. In late June, the shark swam off Wilmington, far out to sea, according to the Ocearch website. In recent days, however, Katharine has been detected off Hatteras Island, along the edge of the continental shelf. On July 4, Katharine surfaced three separate times, circling the same area.
— Cal Ripfin (@CalRipfin) July 5, 2015
This month hardly represents Katharine’s first visit to Pamlico Sound. Last winter, the shark startled researchers by remaining in Cape Cod late into the season. She then swam purposefully south, directly and with little warning. The great white was detected entering Pamlico a few days later, as the Inquisitr previously reported, even going so far as to approach the mouth of the Pamlico River. The behavior was highly unusual, as unlike a bull shark, Katharine can not travel up the waterway, finding herself instead limited to the brackish waters at its mouth.
How far north Katharine will continue remains to be seen. A large population of white sharks congregates every year off Cape Cod, and Katharine is no stranger there, having returned each of the last few summers. The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy is currently engaged in the second year of a population study off the cape, as CBS News reports, documenting how many great whites gather there and which ones return annually. In just a few weeks, it seems likely that Katharine may represent one of those return visitors, alongside her fellow great white sharks.
[Photo by Ryan Pierse / Getty Images]