A Great White Shark Was in the Long Island Sound! (Or Maybe Not)


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Maaaaaybe shark? (Doo doo doo doo doo doo.)

The shark frenzy created this week by the tracking of a great white shark swimming in the Long Island Sound may have been somewhat unfounded.

On Monday morning, Ocearch, an organization that researches marine life, said it had tracked a great white swimming off the Connecticut coast, toward the sound’s western end.

The sighting of the aquatic predator, coming just days before Memorial Day weekend and the start of summer beach season, spun up a virtual sharknado of headlines and social media posts.

Ocearch, which has been tagging and tracking marine creatures since 2007, had a “pretty high degree of certainty” on Monday morning that the shark’s tracker was correct, Mr. Kanaly said.

The group’s online tracking map showed three pings between 8 a.m. and 11 a.m. from the shark’s tracker near Greenwich, Conn., a town of about 60,000 people near the western end of 110-mile Long Island Sound.

Given the shark’s proximity to the shore, Mr. Kanaly said, Ocearch wanted to share its location. So on Monday, Ocearch posted on Twitter that it was the “first time ever” the organization had tracked a large white shark in the sound.

Still, Cabot could continue to grow, according to Dr. Tobey Curtis, a shark expert and a fishery management specialist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Fisheries service.

The shark is currently categorized as a “sub-adult shark,” Dr. Curtis said — essentially, a shark teenager.

In the time since Ocearch began tracking Cabot, he has traveled from Nova Scotia down south, hitting the Gulf of Mexico in January before doubling back and heading north along the East Coast.

The migration pattern was typical of sharks of Cabot’s age and size, Dr. Curtis said. But, he said, a shark traveling in the Long Island Sound, if confirmed, would be unusual.

While the sound has four native shark species, great white sharks are not among them, according to Dave Sigworth, a spokesman for the Maritime Aquarium in Norwalk, Conn.

However, great white sharks have been known to migrate along the South Shore of Long Island as the water warms up during the summer, Dr. Curtis said. Researchers had previously identified a nursery for newborn and juvenile sharks in that region, he said.

“It’s the only area of the East Coast where there’s a high population of newborn or juvenile white sharks,” Dr. Curtis said.

After a prolonged decline, the great white population is believed to be rebounding, Dr. Curtis said. He pointed to increased sightings as evidence that measures implemented by the federal government to prohibit the fishing of white sharks had been working.

Still, despite the new shark abundance, rest assured, Mr. Sigworth said: “It’s O.K. to swim in the sound.”

Shark attacks are relatively rare, Dr. Curtis said. “Millions of people are swimming in the ocean every year,” he added, “and the risk of interactions, even in hot spots, is very low.”

The last recorded shark attack in the Long Island Sound was in 1961, Mr. Sigworth said, and humans likely posed more of a threat to a shark than it did to us.



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