Katharine, the popular great white shark who has captured the internet’s attention since she was tagged by researchers, has traveled along the Eastern Seaboard for a full year, and scientists are celebrating the epic journey she has taken in that time.
Katharine was fitted with a SPOT tag by OCEARCH researchers one year ago, USA Today reports. SPOT stands for Smart Position and Temperature, and once affixed to a shark, they can record depth, temperature, and salinity. When Katharine’s dorsal fin breaks the surface, the tag relays its data to a satellite, allowing scientists to track the shark in real time.
While the 2,300 pound, 14 foot great white wasn’t the first to be traced by OCEARCH, Katharine resonated with the public in a unique way. Media outlets have reported consistently on the shark’s progress, and a Twitter feed related to Katharine, @Shark_Katharine, has over 16,000 followers.
— Rick Neale (@RickNeale1) August 19, 2014
Since she was tagged off Cape Cod last year, Katharine has traveled over 6,700 miles, on a path that has taken her south along the Eastern Seaboard. As The Inquisitr reported in June, Katharine rounded the tip of Florida and entered the Gulf of Mexico, before heading towards the Texas shoreline. Reversing course since then, Katharine is currently in the waters off North Carolina, according to the Palm Beach Post.
The information gleaned from Katharine and the rest of the sharks that OCEARCH has tagged is already changing what scientists know about great whites. To begin with, the sharks migrate south for the winter faster than previously thought. Scientists have also discerned that the movement of great white sharks is far more dynamic than expected. The sharks have been measured accelerating to nearly 30 mph for short bursts, during what are believed to be attacks.
What I don’t understand is why humans are scared of sharks and not the oceans in general. Lots of things to harm you out here – not just us.
— Katharine The Shark (@Shark_Katharine) August 11, 2014
OCEARCH allows internet users to join in tracking Katharine and the other sharks on their website. Mary Lee and Genie, two other great whites tagged in September 2012 off Cape Cod, have also gained thousands of online fans. Though the shark’s paths may seem to bring them too close to shore for comfort, researchers caution that the GPS data can sometimes be off by several miles, and is meant to chart the long-term migratory patterns of Katharine and the other great white sharks.
[Image via Space Coast Daily]