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Great white sharks tracked swimming off Long Island

Researchers take blood and tissue samples and attach

Researchers take blood and tissue samples and attach a transmitter before releasing a shark back into the water. Credit: OCEARCH

We're gonna need a bigger island.

Three great white sharks are lurking in the Atlantic Ocean off Long Island Sound and New Jersey before they migrate north toward Cape Cod, according to Ocearch, a Utah-based nonprofit that tracks the location of sharks.

Charlotte, an 8-foot, 338-pound teenager, and Monomoy, a 6-foot, 7-inch juvenile male, were tracked to the waters off Long Island Sound. A ping from a transmitter on Charlotte indicated she was east of the Sound on Monday while Monomoy was last located May 27 near Montauk.

And the closest to the region may be Martha, a 7-foot, 184-pound female who pinged Saturday near Asbury Park, New Jersey, according to Ocearch data.

"Sharks are in the waters around NYC and we’d better get used to it," said Paul Sieswerda, president and chief executive of the nonprofit group Gotham Whale.

But Bob Hueter, chief scientist for Ocearch, said the sightings are not unusual.

Many great whites are born in the New York Bight — the Atlantic Ocean waters stretching from Montauk to Cape May, New Jersey.

By the time most great whites are 3-years-old they begin making the annual trek from the Carolinas to as far north as Newfoundland — making stops near New York to feed — before reversing course and heading back south, Hueter said.

"There's no reason to feel any increase in risk at this time on Long Island," Hueter said. "Cape Cod is another story … But I have not seen any reason to think that the risk factor for Long Island has gone up."

While Ocearch is currently tracking 70 sharks, they represent a small percentage of the ones currently swimming along the East Coast.

In 2019, Cabot, a nearly 10-foot, 500-plus-pound great white, was tracked to the western end of the Sound, off Greenwich, Connecticut.

While shark attacks are exceedingly rare, great whites are credited with more fatal unprovoked attacks than any other species. Their swimming patterns take them from deeper coastal waters to open ocean.

"But that doesn't mean people shouldn't exercise the normal types of precaution," Hueter said. "Certainly don't go swimming with seals. If you start swimming with their food you put yourself at risk."

Chris Paparo, the Southampton Marine Science Center manager at Stony Brook University’s School of Marine and Atmospheric Sciences, said Long Island largely attracts juvenile great whites who largely feed on fish such as bunker, bluefish, flounder and sea robins.

"Long Island is rich in fish," said Paparo, who also works with South Fork Natural History Museum’s Shark Research and Education program. "The waters around here are generally too warm for seals so those animals move north in the summer time and with them will be the larger white sharks."

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