Katharine, the great white shark whose southward trek over the past year captivated observers across the internet, is back at home in the waters off Cape Cod, and researchers are noting that the predator remains a gold mine of information about her species.
As the Houston Chronicle reports, Katharine’s journey brought her south along the East Coast of the United States, into the Gulf of Mexico, and then back again over the last year. Tagged by research group Ocearch in August of 2013, Katharine is a juvenile great white, measuring just over 14 feet long. Her journey covered more than 8,600 miles, according to the Medfield Press, as she alerted observers to her whereabouts by way of a satellite tag attached to her dorsal fin.
— OCEARCH (@OCEARCH) December 4, 2014
Dr. Greg Skomal, who studies great whites for the state of Massachusetts, was one of the researchers that tagged Katharine last year. He related that the data gathered from her is unusual, even among white sharks.
“While there have been plenty of shark sightings over the years in Cape Cod Bay, Katharine has provided an actual track, and when you look at Katharine’s track, it is beautiful,” he asserted.
Chris Fischer, founder of Ocearch, concurred with Dr. Skomal’s assessment of Katharine’s data.
“She is creating her own unique data set, the first great white shark ever recorded this way in Cape Cod Bay,” he said.
Overall, the Ocearch program has tagged about 170 sharks, including 80 great whites. Each shark has as many as four sensors attached, which relay data to researchers either by way of satellite, or through buoys and shore sensors that record acoustic signatures. A device implanted in Katharine’s abdomen will allow scientists to track her for up to 10 years, while a pop-off tag attached to her dorsal fin will break free after a set period of time, revealing a wide range of data.
Earlier this year, Katharine returned to Cape Cod, even making her way into the bay. As the Inquisitr previously reported, the shark’s satellite tag alerted researchers to her presence. According to Fischer, Katharine is unique among the tagged sharks, primarily because she spends much of her time near the surface.
— Tim Kelley NECN (@SurfSkiWxMan) October 12, 2014
“All these sharks are different. Katharine stands out because she constantly comes up finning, which means she likes to spend a lot of time on or near the surface,” he said. “She is so coastal, almost living on the beaches, as well. It makes her somewhat of a media darling as she passes by. At the same time, she is giving us the most comprehensive look at her life.”
Seemingly undistracted by the attention, Katharine continues to reveal much about her life to scientists. Eagle-eyed observers may be able to catch a glimpse of Katharine’s fin in the waters around Monomoy and Nantucket, some of the great white’s favorite haunts.
[Image: Ocearch via WTSP]