A great white shark that was tagged off the Florida coast early in 2013 and named Lydia by scientists has captivated an online following, and now, as she approaches the Canadian coast for the second time, researchers are marveling at the unusual path she has taken in the last two years.
Lydia was tagged off Jacksonville, Florida, in March of 2013, according to the Telegram, by an Ocearch research team. Outfitted with satellite tags that relay her position, the 2,000 pound, 14.5 foot long mature shark has displayed a kind of wanderlust, sometimes traveling several hundred miles in a 48-hour period.
Chris Fischer, the expedition leader and founding chair of Ocearch, explained researchers’ excitement over Lydia’s path across the Atlantic.
“She’s traveled over 25,000 miles in less than two years. She’s connected the dots between Florida and the southeast of Newfoundland, and kind of excited everybody over in Europe there when she crossed the mid-Atlantic ridge… and then down south past the Azores off northwest Africa and back to the southeast,” he noted. “Now she seems to be repeating that pattern almost to the day.”
— OCEARCH (@OCEARCH) December 10, 2014
As Boston.com notes, Lydia broke a record earlier this year, traveling farther than any great white shark that has been tracked by scientists. Lydia appears to be moving with purpose, and according to Dr. Greg Skomal, a senior fisheries biologist for the state of Massachusetts who helped tag her, Lydia is a very unique shark.
“She’s not only moved up to northern latitudes to Nova Scotia in the winter, which is unusual, she’s also made incredibly long distance movements to central parts of Atlantic,” Skomal observed. “None of our white sharks do that. She’s had some milestone events in her year.”
— Oceans Campus (@OceansCampus) December 12, 2014
Lydia’s transatlantic crossing also caused speculation that the shark may be pregnant. Much is still unknown about the reproductive cycle of white sharks, as the Inquisitr previously reported, yet scientists are aware that female great whites can store sperm after sex and become pregnant only when the time is optimal for reproduction. Though it is impossible for observers to know for certain if Lydia is gestating a litter of pups, Fischer voiced his hopes that the shark will help researchers unravel some of those mysteries.
“I would guess that Lydia is pregnant, and that she has been out in the open ocean gestating her babies, and that this spring she will lead us to where those baby white sharks are born—the nursery,” he said.
The tags attached to Lydia are battery-powered, so their life is finite, and seawater could inadvertently damage them at any time, Dr. Skomal noted. He expects, however, that white shark fans will have another year to follow Lydia’s exploits.
[Image: Ocearch via the Belfast Telegraph]