Carcass of right whale drifting off Myrtle Beach leads to ‘phenomenon’ for marine biologists


(Source: South Carolina Department of Natural Resources)

MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW) – The carcass of a right whale that drifted up the coast of Myrtle Beach created a phenomenon for marine biologists who were able to tag two white sharks.

Biologists recently confirmed the death of “Cottontail,” an Atlantic right whale that had been entangled in fishing gear and drifted just off the coast of Myrtle Beach.

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources said the loss of even a single Atlantic right whale is a blow to the species. Only 400 estimated individuals remain in the world.

“But nothing goes to waste in nature,” the SCDNR posted on its Facebook page, “and the whale’s untimely death created an unusual phenomenon that one of our biologists was fortunate to study last week.”

Predators from all around, including white sharks, were attracted to the carcass of the large white whale for feeding. The SCDNR’s shark biologist and a local charter captain used the group feeding opportunity to collect data on the iconic white sharks.

The white sharks are known to migrate through South Carolina’s waters in the wintertime. Biologist Bryan Frazier captured a video of one of the white sharks feeding on the carcass.

The team was able to tag two female white sharks — one 12-footer and one 15-footer — with tags from the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy.

“These tags will allow the Conservancy’s experts to track the movements of these sharks and learn more about these animals that act as indicators of a healthy ocean,” the SCDNR said.

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