When most divers think of world-class dive destinations, Morehead City, North Carolina on the east coast of the United States probably doesn’t come to mind, but it should. Known as the ‘Graveyard of the Atlantic,’ the waters off of North Carolina are home to hundreds of shipwrecks lining the coast, many dating from World War II battles including the wreck of a German U-boat, the U-352. And with North Carolina lying just off the Gulf Stream, the water is often warm and clear. But there is something else besides great dive conditions and historic shipwrecks that entice divers to the Carolina coast: the sharks.
Sand tiger sharks (Carcharias taurus) abound in these waters, and are often found on, in, and around the shipwrecks. With rows of jagged teeth jutting from their jaws, sand tigers can look downright menacing. But the truth is that you would be hard pressed to find a more docile shark. Sand tigers can typically be found lazily cruising around the wrecks, seemingly unfazed by the divers who frequently visit. At sizes ranging between 4-11 feet, sand tigers usually feed on bony fish, crustaceans, and small rays, all of which are plentiful around the shipwrecks. In fact, no bait is ever used to bring the sand tigers closer to divers because it’s not needed; the sharks are already there.
While sand tiger sharks can be found year-round off of North Carolina, every year during the summer months divers are often treated to the incredible site of large aggregations of these sharks sometimes numbering a hundred or more. For reasons we don’t yet understand, the sharks prefer to congregate around some wrecks over others, particularly the wreck of the freighter Caribsea. Massive schools of bait fish, along with barracuda, giant southern stingrays, and a few species of sea turtles are also frequently seen near the sharks, and pods of spotted and bottlenose dolphins are a common sight during surface intervals. For divers who enjoy shipwrecks, sharks, and big marine life, there simply is no better destination than Morehead City, North Carolina.
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