Chessie, the largest tiger shark ever tagged on the east coast, hasn’t been detected since early July, leaving her fans and researchers to wonder where the shark has gone in the intervening month.
The shark was first encountered by researchers on May 18, when she was caught and tagged off Hilton Head Island, as the Houston Chronicle reports. At the time, Chessie was noted for her size, with one researcher asserting that her head was “as big as a great white’s.” Weighing 1,200 pounds and measuring just over 12 feet long, Chessie is considered the biggest tiger shark ever tagged along the east coast of the United States, and a large specimen in her own right.
— OCEARCH (@OCEARCH) July 13, 2015
For several weeks after the shark was tagged, she lingered off the coast of Charleston, in what appeared to be her home territory. In early June, however, Chessie began a dedicated and purposeful journey northward, sticking close to the coastline. The tiger shark came within a few hundred feet of shore on several occasions, even entering the Cape Fear river at one point. As she rounded the Outer Banks, Chessie moved out to sea, following the edge of the continental shelf, eventually arriving south of Montauk. The shark signaled several times between Long Island and Nantucket, before her tracker went silent on July 5.
— Endangered NJ (@Endangered_NJ) June 28, 2015
Chessie isn’t the only Ocearch-tracked shark to migrate northward, as the Inquisitr has previously reported. Earlier this year, a great white named Mary Lee found herself at the center of a media frenzy when she swam along the New Jersey coastline. Since then, she has returned south and remained there, while many of her fellow white sharks have migrated to Cape Cod for the summer.
Wazzzzzzzzup Nantucket, MA. The water is wicked cold pic.twitter.com/9HCh0MvQYa
— Chessie Tiger Shark (@ChessieShark) June 27, 2015
The area south of Long Island is thought to be a nursery for great white sharks, and apparently holds some attraction for Chessie, as well. Because the tiger shark’s tag hasn’t signaled since early in July, researchers are at a loss regarding her current location. Chessie could be swimming off the coast of Cape Cod with the season’s resident population of great whites, or she could have moved south once again.
Despite Chessie’s absence from southern waters, lawmakers in her “home state” of South Carolina recently introduced legislation that would prohibit anglers from taking tiger sharks in their waters. Fishermen would still be able to catch tiger sharks under the proposed legislation, the State reports, but would be forced to release them.
All that is known for certain is that Chessie hasn’t approached the surface in some time. With her distinctive coastal pattern, however, it is likely only a matter of time before the tiger shark’s fin breaks the surface once again, revealing Chessie’s presence somewhere along the Atlantic shoreline.
[Image via Ocearch]