Monday, November 27, 2017

The Tarpon & Sand Tiger Sharks

On August 26, 1957, the American submarine, USS Tarpon, foundered and sank about 20 miles south of Ocracoke Island while under tow to a salvage yard.

In 1983 Roderick M. Farb, author of Shipwrecks, Diving the Graveyard of the Atlantic, discovered that the Tarpon was an aggregation and breeding ground for the Atlantic sand tiger shark.

By D Ross Robertson
Public Domain

Farb had noticed "large numbers of shark's teeth on the hull of the submarine."  "Males," he writes, "prior to mating, bite the female behind her head and forward of the first dorsal fin. In the process the male shark loses some of his protruding teeth and these fall to the bottom."

The presence of the sub prevented the teeth from being covered by sand, thus providing visual evidence that the area is a mating ground for the sharks.

Sand sharks are sometimes caught by surf fishermen along the Outer Banks. According to Wikipedia, "The sand tiger is often associated with being vicious or deadly, due to their relatively large size and sharp, protruding teeth that point outward from their jaws, however they are quite docile, and are not a threat to humans," There have been "no confirmed human fatalities" associated with sand sharks.

This month's Ocracoke Newsletter is my analysis of a sentence penned by surveyor Jonathan Price in 1795. The sentence reads, "Occacock was heretofore, and still retains the name of, an island. It is now a peninsula; a heap of sand having gradually filled up the space which divided it from the bank."  You can read my analysis here:

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