Killers’ Nursery: Great White Sharks Lurk Just Offshore from the Hamptons

Great white shark cartoon by Mickey Paraskevas
Cartoon by Mickey Paraskevas

During the last few weeks, practically every newspaper and website on the East End has done a story on an extraordinary find deep in the Atlantic Ocean just off Montauk.

This is one place in the world where great white sharks have a nursery. Off Montauk, they give birth and raise their delicate offspring through the first few months of their lives when they, the babies, are just four or five feet long and weigh only about 50 to 75 pounds.

This is an astounding discovery, and the credit goes to the captain of the shark tagging research ship Ocearch, a ship that has been sweeping the ocean offshore here to look for these babies—and finding them.

“It really shocked us,” Ocearch captain Chris Fischer told The Southampton Press. “We thought we’d catch one if we were lucky, and to see the volume we saw in just, basically, one week, it’s just really amazing.”

The Ocearch has a sort of forklift platform that can be dropped down alongside the ship. The crew darts a baby and reels it in to be put on the platform, and then a permanent pop-up satellite tag is placed in the shark’s fin. And then the baby great white shark is allowed to wriggle free back into the ocean. Some of these fish still have signs of umbilical cords. At least one of them was of a size that made the crew think they had a newborn.

In one week, they have tagged nine baby great white sharks. All of them now give off a location beep every time they come to the surface. They will give off this beep for the next three to five years as they circle the globe. And you can see them. The beeps can be located on a mobile app called the Global Shark Tracker.

And all nine have been given names. They are Montauk, Hampton, Hudson, Gratitude, Paumanok, Gotham, Manhattan, Brunswick and Teddy. At least one name, Paumanok, was chosen from more than 1,000 names submitted to Ocearch. (Keep in mind that these names are chosen by humans, not by mom and dad. Hmmm.)

Also involved in this is a Southampton High School science program led by teacher Greg Metzger. They document the encounters and watch for trends.

“It’s super exciting,” Mr. Metzger told The Southampton Press. “We’re right on the edge of some very ground breaking work in the white shark story.”

Nowhere in all this coverage is any acknowledgement that this is the beginning of a horror movie.

The plot is that one of the crew members aboard the Ocearch, Tom Bulleten, played by Matthew McConaughey, jealous of all the attention Mr. Metzger and Mr. Fischer are getting, decides to try to locate the actual underwater nursery. He gathers up some friends with spear guns, gets them all duded up in rubber suits, and during the night they go overboard into the deep. Bulleten is accompanied down there by his girlfriend Lisa Booty, played by Scarlett Johansson, who is reluctant to go with him but, because she is so in love, she goes anyway.

In the plot, the team finds the nursery and noisily bullies their way in. (Lisa Booty is left behind as lookout). The team walks in awe between these rows and rows of sticky white breathing placentas that hang from the ceiling of a big underwater cave. They’ve hit the jackpot. The blank eyes of the unborn killer sharks can be seen through the translucent bags they occupy. (I know that sharks give birth the old fashioned way, but we make exception here because this is Hollywood.)

One of the team steps on a nail, fires his weapon and the carnage begins. It’s accompanied by high squeaky baby porpoise sounds as the babies die.

But then angry 10,000-pound killer shark ladies arrive and begin eating the interlopers. It’s a disaster. Tom Bulletin makes one last stand and, cursing, is bloodily chomped in two as he fires his weapon and screams. Billy Barron, a member of his party who also only reluctantly agreed to go, races out and saves Johansson at the last minute before getting chomped, sending her safely over the side to the deck of the Ocearch to be able to tell the tale.

The End.

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