Great White Shark Population Increasing on East Coast, But Experts Say That’s ‘Very Normal’

by Matthew Memrick
(Brad Leue/Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

Great White Sharks are circling in many East Coast areas, but experts say it’s “very normal” for their population.

Do you hear that, beachgoers? When you see them off-shore and run out of names, you can go to the well and go to, “Jaws 1,” “Jaws 2,” and so on.

OCEARCH founder Chris Fisher, who leads a nonprofit sea animal research group, downplayed a recent Tweet and told NBC News “it’s normal” for swarms of great whites to pile up before heading south for the winter.

People magazine reported on Fisher’s reactions.

So Begins The Shark Stockpiles?

Fisher, however, is not genuinely concerned.

“They go up to New England and Atlantic Canada in the summer and fall,” Fisher said. “They forage up there, bulking up and putting on weight, and then when it starts to get cold, they move down to their winter habitat, primarily between Cape Hatteras and Cape Canaveral.”

Last week, Twitter user @punished_stu shared a screenshot from the OCEARCH tracker. The image revealed many of the tracked animal pinging off the Atlantic coast.

“Sharks are amassing on the east coast,” they wrote in the now-viral tweet. The Tweet got more than 50,000 likes.

The Twitter user went on to say, “I occasionally log in to check that the nearest Great White is at least 2000 miles away.”

Twitter had a frenzy with the post as one person stated, “One misstep, and it’s World War Shark.” Another fellow joked that the sharks had “the right to assembly.”

Finally, one person was in the holiday spirit, saying, “It’s the next bad monster movie on Syfy: Christmas Shark Attack.”

Group Tracking Since 2007

Climate change has fueled research like shark tracking. The group started tracking 14 years ago and has tagged 431 sharks, sea turtles, seals, and other marine animals throughout the world’s oceans.

Fisher claims the tracking helps provide baseline data for the future and documenting any shift in migration patterns.

NBC News reports the group’s app records at least 80 great whites per day over the past week.

Be Assured, Sharks Don’t Go After Humans

Despite what Sharknado and Jaws show on screen, Pacific Shark Research Center program director David Ebert told KNTV that sharks prefer other animals and not humans. He gathered after one California attack in June involving a surfer may have been a seal mixup.

Ebert said sharks can sense humans but probably “can’t make out exactly what it was.” When they bite, the director said it’s a guess and “probably more of an investigatory action.”

A recent Australian study found that juvenile great white sharks are either completely color blind or have a limited color scope. While that group of sharks is responsible for most human attacks, the mammal can’t distinguish between humans, seals, walruses, and other animals.