Sharks in the sound: researchers study aims to ease fears - WRBL

Sharks in the sound: researchers study aims to ease fears

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BEAUFORT, N.C. - Millions of people enjoy North Carolina waters every year. But few of those people stop to think what they may be swimming with.

Researchers from ECU are in the middle of a study aimed at looking at which environment different species of sharks like, particularly juveniles.

"What we're finding is that there are a lot of juvenile sharks in the area," said Chuck Bangley, one of the researchers from ECU. "That probably means their parents come in on a fairly regular basis too."

Bangley's team is focusing on waterways near Beaufort. On this particular trip, Bangely was in Back Sound near Shackleford Banks. They're hoping with their study, people will understand where and at what temperature, depth, and time of day people may encounter sharks.

"I think knowing what we are swimming with and what species we are swimming with, and what kind of things they eat, is important to understand whether or not we need to be nervous when we get in the water and swim," said Cecilia Krahforst, another ECU researcher helping with the study.

But trying to study sharks so close to where people are swimming can be dangerous.

"Because it is actually baiting sharks into the area, we actually try, generally, to avoid setting in areas where there are definitely people out there swimming," Bangely said. "We always keep public safety in mind when we're setting our gear."

Among the sharks Bangely and his team have caught in inland waterways are Blacknose, Blacktip, Bull, Smooth Dogfish, Spiny Dogfish, and Atlantic Sharpnose sharks, which Bangley says is probably the most common inshore shark in North Carolina.

But when the sun goes down, sharks become more active, including in inland water ways like the Pamlico Sound.

Back on January 21, 2013, Mary Lee, a 16-foot Great White Shark tagged by Ocearch, swam into inland North Carolina waters through the Ocracoke Inlet.

When Bangley's team is done studying the sharks they catch, they release them back into the water.

Bangely says this type of study allows you to focus and appreciate everything the water can offer.

"You never really see what's going on underneath it," he said. "And this just allows me to see what's swimming around under the boat and that's always been something that just fascinates me."

In previous years, researchers from Duke tagged an 8-foot long Bull shark in the Neuse River. To read more on that study, click here.

To see where sharks that were tagged by Ocearch are, including a 10 and a half foot Tiger shark off the coast of North Carolina, click here.

To read more about Bangley's research on sharks, visit any of the following links:

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