A great white shark is tracked in Long Island Sound for first time

Cabot, named for explorer John Cabot, was tracked in South Carolina and North Carolina in April and made his way to the Delaware Bay last week.

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By Elisha Fieldstadt

The first great white shark ever tracked in the Long Island Sound may have made his way Tuesday from Connecticut to the southern coast of Long Island, marine scientists said.

The almost 10-foot-long shark — called Cabot — was first detected in the Sound on Monday by at least three pings near Greenwich, Connecticut, according to Ocearch, an ocean research organization that has been tracking the shark since it tagged him in Nova Scotia in 2018.

"I heard sending a ping from the Long Island Sound had never been done before by a white shark ... so naturally I had to visit and send one off. Hello Greenwich how are you today?!" a tweet from the Ocearch-run Twitter account for Cabot said Monday.

"So cool to be tracking @WhiteSharkCabot in the Long Island Sound since as far as we know, it is unusual for white sharks to visit the area," a tweet from Ocearch said.

On Tuesday, data suggested Cabot was southwest of Montauk, Long Island's easternmost point. But Ocearch scientists said they were trying to determine the precise location of the great white was since they were getting pings from both the north and south coasts of Long Island.

Chris Fischer, the founder of Ocearch, told NBC News on Monday night that while Cabot is the first great white to be tracked as far west as he was in the Long Island Sound, "this is certainly not the first time a shark has ever been in Long Island Sound."

"And it's likely if Cabot is in there, there's other white sharks in there," Fischer said.

Still, "most of our sharks in the past have just gone past Montauk and Block Island and kind of stayed on in the Atlantic moving northbound. But clearly Cabot sensed something in the Sound that he wanted to check out."

What the shark wanted to check out, Fischer said, was an abundance of food — bait fish. He said that's a great sign for the Sound "because these white sharks don't go where the water quality is bad. They don't go where there's no life."

"This is a big high-five or fin-five, whatever you want to call it, to all those people who committed to cleaning up the Sound," Fischer added.

He said it's possible that Cabot might even head farther west, in the direction of the East River and New York City.

Other sharks that Ocearch is tracking off North Carolina will probably join Cabot within the next few weeks to "take advantage of the feeding opportunity as well," Fischer said.

But Memorial Day beachgoers shouldn't be nervous about going into the water, he said.

"I understand it's a primal fear that resonates with everyone but you're more likely to win the lottery than have a shark encounter," Fischer said. Sharks like Cabot are more used to eating things that are closer to 8 inches long, not person-sized.

In areas with sharks that do hunt larger prey, "look at the ocean before you go in it," Fischer said. "And if you demonstrate a little common sense, you can take an already minuscule risk and make it even smaller."

Named for explorer John Cabot, the shark was tracked in the Carolinas in April and made his way to the Delaware Bay last week. He swims an average of 50 to 150 miles per day, so it's possible he's been in the Sound four days.

Cabot and any sharks that join him will likely stay in the Sound until the water temperature rises above 70 degrees, and then they will resume their trip back north to Nova Scotia, Fischer said. The water temperature in the Sound is currently about 58 degrees.

With the news of Cabot's entering the Long Island Sound, Ocearch's online tracker overloaded as the public rushed to find out his whereabouts, the organization said.

"We increased our capacity to handle traffic by like six-fold, and then they crashed it again," Fischer said. "So we're working hard right now to add servers so that we can keep the shark tracker up and make sure everyone knows where the sharks are."