Lydia, a record-breaking great white shark tagged early last year by Ocearch researchers, has turned away from her course towards Newfoundland, and scientists are wondering whether her actions may reveal the location of her species’ mating grounds in the Atlantic.
As the Telegram notes, Lydia’s satellite tag showed her moving toward Newfoundland last week, though according to Ocearch’s Chris Fischer, the great white recently reversed course in an unexpected and surprising development.
“It’s interesting what Lydia is up to there off Newfoundland right now,” he said. “She’s got to be going back to somewhere to mate.”
— OCEARCH (@OCEARCH) December 12, 2014
As the Inquisitr recently noted, Lydia has traveled farther than any great white monitored by researchers, covering over 25,000 miles in just under two years. When Lydia’s course brought her north in the fall, Fischer hoped that her destination would reveal new details of one of the least understood aspects of great white behavior.
“I thought this fall and early winter she was going to show us where she went to mate. And she hasn’t gone anywhere yet that looks like a place I think she would mate based on what I’ve seen in other parts of the world where I know we’ve been on mating sites,” he observed.
— Todd O’Brien (@todd_obrien) December 10, 2014
Lydia’s path, along with her transatlantic crossing, have stoked speculation that she may be pregnant, according to Boston.com. Scientists know that female great whites are able to store sperm, only becoming pregnant when the time is optimal, yet many aspects of the sharks’ mating process still remains a mystery.
Fischer believes that the great white mating grounds may lie off Cape Cod, as mature males and females have both been spotted in the area. Great whites are generally only found together at mating sites.
— Oceans Campus (@OceansCampus) December 14, 2014
A 4.4-meter shark, Lydia was tagged off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida in March of 2013. She has since garnered a devoted following of observers, who are able to track Lydia through the Ocearch website.
Though male great whites travel to their mating grounds every fall and winter, females migrate for two years before returning. Researchers have noted that the great whites’ migratory patterns bring them to the same areas annually, and Lydia found herself near the Grand Banks a year almost to the day after she was last seen there.
Fischer continues to observe Lydia closely after her southward turn, hoping that she is simply waiting for a cue that will lead researchers to the Atlantic mating grounds of great white sharks.
[Image: Lwp Kommunikáció via the Tech Times]