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Ether whale population drops after Shapella — Will ETH price sink too?

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The share of Ether held by so-called whale addresses has dropped since Ethereum's Shapella upgrade in mid April, suggesting that large investors may be leaning bearish in the near term.

ETH whale population shrinks post-Shapella

The amount of Ether (ETH) held by addresses with 1,000-10,000 ETH, or "whales," was over 14.033 million ETH on May 1, according to Glassnode data. In comparison, the count was 14.167 million ETH on April 12, when Shapella went live on Ethereum.

Ether whale net position change. Source: Glassnode

Interestingly, a week before the Shapella upgrade, the Ether whale cohort held 14.303 million ETH, the highest amount in 2023.

"Shrimps" only ones buying ETH since Shapella

Ether's price is down over 3.5% since the Shapella upgrade — suggesting that several whales may have indeed "sold the news."

Interestingly, other address cohorts also showed a decline, including sharks (100-1,000 ETH), fishes (10-100 ETH), crabs (1-10 ETH) and even mega-whales (10,000+ ETH).

Only shrimps (<1 ETH) accumulated during the period, with their net position slightly increasing from 1.79 million ETH on April 12 to 1.80 million ETH on May 1.

Ether shrimp net position change. Source: TradingView

Shapella enabled investors to withdraw ETH locked via staking, which some argued would increase selling pressure.

Since the Shapella upgrade, investors have withdrawn over 1.97 million ETH worth around $3.6 billion, according to Beaconcha.in. Nevertheless, no major changes in cryptocurrency exchanges' ETH balances have been seen to date.

Ether whales vs. shrimps

Historically, fewer Ether whales typically means heightened downside risk for the ETH price.

Whale activity typically acts as a leading market indicator. So, rich investors accumulating typically precedes a price rise and vice versa.

The price-to-whale positive correlation existed until March 2020, as shown in the chart below. Afterward, retail mania took over alongside the Federal Reserve's quantitative easing, and the correlation snapped.

Ether whale net position change. Source: Glassnode

Notably, ETH rallied from $110 in March 2020 to over $4,950 in November 2021 despite the declining number of whales. The inverse correlation continued throughout the price downtrend to around $850 in June 2022.

But since then, whale holdings have risen by nearly 1 million ETH. Meanwhile, ETH's price has more than doubled to around $1,850, hinting at a possible return of the price-to-whale correlation, which would be a bullish sign for Ether.

Where can the ETH price go next?

The $2,000 level is an important psychological resistance level for ETH/USD that bulls have been unable to break despite multiple attempts in 2023.

Related: Ethereum price outlook weakens, but ETH derivatives suggest $1.6K is unlikely

On the daily chart, ETH/USD holds above the short-term support provided by its 50-day exponential moving average (EMA), near $1,840. A successful rebound from here opens $2,000-$2,125 as the next upside target range in the second quarter.

ETH/USD daily price chart, with the 50-day EMA in red and 200-day EMA in blue. Source: TradingView

Conversely, a break below the 50-day EMA risks sending ETH toward its 200-day EMA near $1,670, down about 10% from current price levels.

This article does not contain investment advice or recommendations. Every investment and trading move involves risk, and readers should conduct their own research when making a decision.

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