CHARLOTTE, N.C. (The Charlotte Observer) - Charlotte was honored in an unusual way this week, when marine researchers working off the North Carolina coast named a great white shark after the city.
Charlotte, the shark, is about 8 feet long and weighs 338 pounds, OCEARCH said in a Facebook post.
OCEARCH announced the naming Monday, after she was caught during an expedition investigating whether the Outer Banks are a mating ground for white sharks.
“Charlotte was tagged, sampled, and released off the coast of North Carolina in Onslow Bay,” the nonprofit wrote. “Her name was chosen for the wonderful people of North Carolina who have been incredibly kind and hospitable to us throughout the expedition.”
Onslow Bay is south of Cape Lookout on the Outer Banks. The area is known as North Carolina’s Crystal Coast.
Charlotte (the shark) is considered “a young teenager, not yet entering sexual maturity,” according to Bob Hueter, OCEARCH’s chief scientist.
“With her 10-year acoustic tag, 5-year SPOT tag and 1-year PSAT tag, we will be able to track Charlotte as she grows into full adulthood,” he told McClatchy News.
She is the second white shark tagged and released so far off the North Carolina coast during the 21-day expedition, which ends this week. The first was a 11.7-foot, 883-pound “sub-adult female” named Freya. She was also caught in Onslow Bay, 10 miles off shore at the site of a World War II shipwreck known as the W.E. Hutton, OCEARCH said.
Shipwrecks off North Carolina are known to attract large sharks, and OCEARCH reported it saw a hammerhead shark and a sand tiger shark swimming around the same wreck.
Data collected from Charlotte and Freya will be used in more than 20 research projects with scientists from 21 different institutions, the agency says.
OCEARCH is a nonprofit devoted to white sharks studies, including where they breed, give birth and nurse. Experts say there is evidence pointing to the Outer Banks as the place white sharks engage in a brutal form of mating. Males bite the females to hold them during mating, leaving teeth marks and gashes as evidence of the activity, OCEARCH has reported.
Sharks tagged during the Outer Banks expedition are being fitted with satellite trackers. Freya is already showing up on tracking and has traveled 42 miles since last week. However, she remains in Onslow Bay, tracking shows.
OCEARCH reports at least six of its 70 tagged sharks are currently off North Carolina, including two that are more than 13 feet long.