Katharine The Great White Shark Returns To The Outer Banks

On February 16, Katharine surface off Hatteras Island.

Katharine the great white shark has signaled from the North Carolina coast, breaking the surface 11 days after she was last recorded near the Florida-Georgia border and returning to the Outer Banks for the second time this season.

Originally tagged off Cape Cod in late 2013, Katharine’s recent absence from Ocearch’s tracking website was notable, as the great white has remained in a striking and well-documented coastal pattern. In December of last year, Katharine turned south, departing the cape late in the season and embarking on a single-minded course that took her to the Outer Banks, where she entered Pamlico Sound and visited the mouth of the Pamlico River. The shark then continued south, reaching Florida in late January. As she traveled down the coast to New Smyrna Beach, Katharine’s fans were left to wonder whether her course would take the shark into the Gulf of Mexico, as it did the previous year.

At the beginning of February, Katharine abruptly changed course, turning northward and once again transiting the Florida coast. She was detected near Fernandina Beach on February 5, on a course that would take her to the Continental Shelf’s Blake Plateau, long the domain of a far larger white shark, Mary Lee. After February 5, Katharine’s tag went silent.

On February 16, Katharine’s dorsal fin once again broke the surface, revealing to Ocearch and her fans that the shark had continued along the coast, returning to the Outer Banks for the second time this year. The signal from her tag documented Katharine just off the seaward side of Hatteras Island, a scant few miles from Pamlico Sound. Though Ocearch’s tracking website displays a straight line between the two most recent signals, Katharine’s true course while submerged remains unknown, meaning she may have entered the sound in the interim.

In the days following her visit to Hatteras, Katharine turned south, embarking on a new course. Her most recent signal came from deeper waters just over the edge of the Continental Shelf, east of Jacksonville. Whether the shark intends to return to Florida or linger near the Carolinas remains to be seen.

Katharine has logged over 10,000 miles since she was first tagged, helping researchers to literally rewrite the book on Atlantic white shark behavior. Her unexpected northward turn and decision to remain on the Eastern Seaboard during her second observed migration mean that this year will see Katharine writing a far different chapter in the saga of Atlantic white sharks than her previous contribution.

[Image via Kera News]