OCEAN CITY, Md. -- Ocean City had one seriously scary tourist visit this weekend: a tiger shark.
The 12-foot long, half-ton female had been nicknamed Septima by scientists with the nonprofit shark research organization OCEARCH. The shark was tagged on its dorsal fin May 30 in South Carolina and had traveled thousands of miles along the East Coast since then.
Tiger sharks get their name from the stripes on their body, and are predators of all kinds of marine life. They can grow to 15 feet long, and typically swim in deeper water, but have been known to follow prey into shallow depths.
When a tagged shark breaks the surface of the water long enough for the tag to connect with a satellite, it sets off a "ping" and tells scientists the shark's location, according to OCEARCH spokeswoman Fiona Marcelino. That information connects with an OCEARCH website that tracks many other sharks' movements across the globe.
On Aug. 1, this shark was in the middle of Isle of Wight Bay in Ocean City, parallel to about 45th Street. The OCEARCH website shows the shark surfaced twice, once at 2:29 p.m., and again at 3:10 p.m. It did not surface again until she was 97 miles away from the resort, at 2:27 a.m. on Aug. 4.
Marcelino said she doesn't believe anyone caught a photo of the shark while it was in Ocean City.
"We don't have any OCEARCH team members or scientists in that area so from our end, we did not take any pictures," she said via e-mail.
Don't cue the John Williams hook just yet. There's no "Jaws" situation happening in Ocean City. Lifeguards had no encounters with the shark, and had only heard of its visit after the fact based on media reports, said Beach Patrol Capt. Butch Arbin.
Arbin did say, historically, small sand sharks will appear on the beach, but they present no danger to swimmers. Back when Ocean City had rock jetties, Arbin recalled seeing small sharks swimming around the rocks, "but they're not the baby sharks of Jaws," he added.