Great white shark tracking data surprises researchers

Tracking data from SPOT tags report the whereabouts of tagged white sharks.
Tracking data from tagged great white sharks has been surprising some researchers.

The travels of great white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) equipped with the SPOT tags in both the Atlantic and Pacific Ocean have surprised researchers over the past month or so.

According to OCEARCH’s Global Shark Tracker, an adult female white shark (nicknamed “Mary Lee”) left Cape Cod waters last September and headed south, as researchers had expected. By the beginning January, Mary Lee had made her way to the waters off northern Florida, which was inline with the theory that Atlantic white sharks spend their time in waters off the southern states of the east coast of the United States during the winter months and then head north during the summer months when water temperatures rise.

Apparently, Mary Lee didn’t get the message that she was supposed to hang out for a while in Florida and began heading north. By the middle of January, the white shark had made her way off the North Carolina coast. By January 24th, she had made her way to Virginia waters. Mary Lee continued to head north from there and was as far north as Massachusetts on February 5th (though far offshore).

Since then Mary Lee began heading south again, but this time she has stayed far offshore from the U.S. coastline. Late last week, Mary Lee was reporting in from the waters of Bermuda. She has since traveled south of the island where her last “ping” was reported on February 23, according to the tracking site.

Guadalupe great white shark photo
A female great white shark swims in the waters off Mexico’s Isla de Guadalupe

Meanwhile, off the west coast of the U.S. another female white shark (nicknamed “Arden Grace”) was making a journey that also surprised some researchers, according to an NBC report. Arden Grace was originally tagged off of Mexico’s Isla de Guadalupe. On February 14, her SPOT tag reported in from Southern California’s Channel Islands. The shark visited both San Miguel Island and San Clemente Island.

According to Dr. Michael Domeier, the location of the shark was surprising, because it makes her the first known white shark from the Guadalupe population to enter coastal California waters. Domeier went on to say that sharks from both Mexico and California are typically thought to travel to what has been dubbed the “White Shark Cafe” during this time of year. The “White Shark Cafe” is located in the open ocean midway between Hawaii and Baja.

Arden Grace’s SPOT tagged has not reported in since mid-February. The SPOT tags only report in when the tagged sharks are at the surface. Domeier told NBC that he’s not really sure where she’ll pop up, next, though he suspects she will head offshore.

You can follow the OCEARCH team’s tracking data at OCEARCH Global Shark Tracker.

You can follow the MCSI team’s tracking data via the Expedition White Shark app (currently only available on iOS devices) or follow updates on the MCSI Facebook Page.

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