OCEAN CITY – Penny, a 10-foot-long great white shark that pinged less than a mile off Ocean City on Memorial Day, has pinged again, heading south along the coast.
Penny’s tracker pinged closer to Corson’s Inlet, June 2, at about 9:50 a.m., meaning she was heading south for the moment. The previous ping was recorded Memorial Day, May 29, at 7 a.m.
A ping indicates that the tracked shark’s dorsal fin has broken the surface of the water momentarily. The nonprofit OCEARCH, which is tracking Penny, shows on its website, ocearch.org, that Penny was a little farther out to sea this time.
Penny, a juvenile female white shark, is reported to weigh 522 pounds. She was tagged by OCEARCH April 23 off Ocracoke, North Carolina. The OCEARCH website indicated that Penny has logged 695 miles since being tagged.
According to Paige Finney, a communication specialist with OCEARCH, white sharks are currently migrating north to spend their summer and fall off New England and Atlantic Canada.
Penny, like other white sharks, is passing through the New Jersey region on their journey north, Finney said.
Penny is OCEARCH’s 92nd white shark tagged in the western North Atlantic and the fourth during Expedition Northbound. She is named after OCEARCH’s friends at Salty Penny Canvas, in Morehead City, North Carolina, who helped the team with custom marine canvas projects.
Finney said great white sharks are at the top of the food chain and, as “apex predators,” are the balance keepers of the ocean, helping keep the food chain in check and protecting fish stocks.
OCEARCH attaches up to four different types of transmitters/sensors to the shark’s dorsal fin. One will ping in real-time when the shark’s fin breaks the surface of the water and lets researchers know its location and the water temperature.
Another tag tracks the shark’s horizontal and vertical movements. A third is similar to the first, but the data is not received in real time, but might be collected over a series of years and shared with other scientists.
The fourth is called a “biologger package” and it records more precise details about the shark’s movements.
According to the OCEARCH website, “The packages may contain an accelerometer, a velocimeter, a camera, a small sonar unit, or a combination of any of these devices.”
The package detaches after 48 hours and must be physically retrieved by the research team.
Finney said anyone wanting to learn more about the OCEARCH tagging process can visit its website and YouTube channel.
She said when OCEARCH studies a white shark, it collects samples and data for up to 25 different science projects. Learn more about the samples they take at https://www.ocearch.org/on-the-lift/.
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