Katharine, the great white shark that has captivated researchers and internet observers as she travels along the Eastern Seaboard, has logged her 10,000th mile since she was tagged in 2013, giving scientists rare insight into her world.
Researchers fitted Katharine’s dorsal fin with a satellite tracking tag in August of 2013 off Cape Cod, as USA Today relates. Since then, she has spent her time in coastal waters along the eastern United States, moving along with the changing seasons, according to Dr. Greg Skomal, a senior scientist with the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries.
“She’s basically a snowbird,” he noted. “My guess is that her migration is mitigated by water temperature, hence the seasonal pattern.”
— USA TODAY Technology (@usatodaytech) January 30, 2015
Katharine’s tag “pings” every time her dorsal fin breaks the surface, revealing her position in real time. The white shark’s movements are enough to make headlines in coastal communities, and when Katharine arrived in the Outer Banks on her journey south earlier this year, residents were stunned to know a great white was in their midst. On Thursday, the white shark pinged at 2:16 a.m. ET off New Smyrna Beach, Florida, as WESH notes, moving along a track that is taking her toward Oak Hill.
— Chris Fischer (@ChrisOCEARCH) January 30, 2015
The data that researchers have gleaned from Katharine and her fellow white sharks is rapidly changing what scientists thought they knew about the species’ migratory habits. The sharks don’t move at random, rather exhibiting their own unique paths and motivations. Katharine has remained in a decidedly coastal pattern over the last two years, while another shark, Mary Lee, has made her home off the Georgia coast, save for a long stretch in the middle of the Atlantic near Bermuda. Lydia, another great white tagged by Ocearch, has remained in the North Atlantic, seemingly oblivious to the change in the weather.
The information gleaned from these sharks has convinced researchers that the great whites migrate south faster and much more randomly than previously thought. Katharine, for example, lingered off Cape Cod late into the season, as the Inquisitr previously reported. Some observers began to question whether the white shark would remain in the region for the winter, before she dramatically and decisively changed course in December, heading for the southern Atlantic.
“The beauty of the pings is that they give a very accurate sense of what these animals are doing,” Skomal added.
Those interested in the sharks can track them at Ocearch’s website, and though they occasionally appear to be incredibly close to shore, researchers caution those locations could be off by miles. They further assert that beachgoers have little to fear from Katharine or any of the other Atlantic white sharks.
[Image: Ocearch via Space Coast Daily]