The group walked back even more of its claim on Tuesday, telling the New York Times it could not be certain Cabot entered the channel at all.
“He either was in the sound or he was never in the sound,” said John Kanaly, an Ocearch spokesman. “We have calculated that he wouldn’t have had time to go all the way around the island and back.”
But beachgoers panic-stricken over a Memorial Day weekend “Jaws” scenario should feel fortunate over Cabot’s presence in the Long Island region, which indicates cleaner waters full of the sea life that drew him in the first place.
Ocearch, which has tagged 43 sharks, outfitted Cabot with a tracking device last year in Nova Scotia.
Cabot’s journey up and down the coast is typical for sharks pursuing warm waters. The 10-footer ripped down the Eastern Seaboard after he was tagged in October and reached Florida waters around Christmas, according to tracking data.
After a jaunt into the Gulf of Mexico, Cabot reversed course and headed back north in the summer. In just over three months, Cabot has traveled more than 4,000 miles.
“These sharks have been coming here for a millennia; for as long as the East Coast of the United States has existed, these sharks have been in their waters,” Robert Hueter, a senior scientist at Ocearch, told CBS News last week.
Chris Fischer, the group’s founding chairman and expedition leader, said the group was surprised to see Cabot so far west, CBS News reported, and speculated his potential presence was linked to environmental efforts to clean up the sound.
“This is something to celebrate,” Fischer said, according to CBS News.
“I know they’ve been working hard in the sound to clean it up and to get life to come back to the region, and when you have an apex predator like Cabot move in to the area, that’s a sign there’s a lot of life in the area and you’ve probably got things moving in the right direction.”
Soaring population growth, climate change and sewage have harmed the waters, but a 10-year effort by federal and state officials to clean up the region appears to have yielded promising results, the Journal News reported, citing a report from the environmental group Save the Sound.
Cabot left the sound by Monday evening and ventured southwest of Montauk, according to tracking data. He seems to be the northernmost great white tracked by Ocearch. Brunswick and Jane recently pinged from the North Carolina waters, and Lunda, a 2,100-pounder, was off South Carolina recently.
Far northeast is a fitting place for Cabot. He was named in honor of John Cabot, the 15th-century Italian explorer who sought a route to Asia.
Instead, he spotted rocky terrain on his voyage west in 1497 — and called it New-found-land.
This story has been updated with a clarification from Ocearch.