Researchers tagged a familiar tiger shark in St. Helena Sound on Nov. 1, but this time was a little different.
“Harry-Etta,” a female tiger shark previously tagged twice, is pregnant, according to a news release from the S.C. Department of Natural Resources.
She’s the 15th tiger shark the team has fitted with a satellite transmitter in South Carolina, but she’s the first one known to be pregnant at the time of tagging.
“We ... confirmed she was pregnant by ultrasound, so we can gain insight into what habitats she uses during gestation,” SCDNR biologist Bryan Frazier said in the release.
In recent years, fresh mating wounds found on other tagged tiger sharks have led the team to believe that South Carolina’s waters, particularly St. Helena and Port Royal sounds, could be important locations for tiger shark reproduction, the release said.
The tiger shark is one of the largest predators in coastal South Carolina waters. Harry-Etta, measuring 12-foot-2 and 820 pounds, could help researchers answer questions about how long sharks live, how often they reproduce, and where and when they migrate.
“This is actually the third time we’ve encountered Harry-Etta,” Frazier said in the release. “She was tagged with a conventional tag in 2013 by (Hilton Head Island) charter captain Chip Michalove and again by SCDNR in 2015 in Port Royal Sound. This time, we were able to apply a SPOT tag, allowing us to follow her movements over the next year.”
SPOT — smart position or temperature — tags are secured to a shark’s dorsal fin to track movement by sending pings to a satellite each time they’re above water for more than 90 seconds.
The public can follow Harry-Etta using the OCEARCH Global Shark Tracker.
Satellite tags for Harry-Etta and another shark tagged two years ago and dubbed Harry-Ette were sponsored by the Harry Hampton Wildlife Fund, and they were named for South Carolina conservationist Harry R.E. Hampton.
Lisa Wilson: 843-706-8103