Great White Shark Showdown? Katharine Heads Into Mary Lee’s Territory

Katharine, the great white shark, appears to have reversed course, heading north along the Florida coastline on a path that is set to bring her back into the waters that Mary Lee, another large white shark tracked by Ocearch, calls home.

Florida welcomed one of the world’s most famous white sharks last month, as she arrived there for the winter after departing Cape Cod in late December. As the Inquisitr previously reported, Katharine moved decisively to head south after lingering at the cape, stopping in the Outer Banks before arriving in the Sunshine State. Since appearing there in late January, the great white has meandered along the coast, remaining in the shallower waters of the continental shelf as she made her way as far south as New Smyrna Beach on January 30.

Observers who expected Katharine to repeat her course from last year, which took her into the Gulf of Mexico, were confounded, however, when the great white made a dramatic and unexpected turn northward, as Space Coast Daily relates. By February 5, Katharine had once again reached the Florida-Georgia line, before her most recent ping showed the shark moving offshore. Remaining on her current course, however, will lead Katharine into waters where she isn’t necessarily the biggest fish.

As Katharine moved south, she traveled through a territory off the Georgia coast that is home to Mary Lee, a much larger white shark similarly tracked by researchers. As WFLA reports, while Katharine is a 14-foot-long white shark, Mary Lee is much bigger, a full two feet longer and weighing in at 3,456 pounds, compared to Katharine’s 2,300. While Katharine has remained in a strict coastal pattern, Mary Lee appears to prefer deeper water, spending much of the last year along a distinct branch of the continental shelf called the Blake plateau. Though the white shark has ventured into the even deeper waters of the Abyssal Plain, the pattern of her travel over the last year is striking for its localized nature.

If she remains on her current course, Katharine will venture into the region Mary Lee inhabits, something she has done before in the past, albeit briefly. Great white sharks remain a poorly understood species, and if the pair come in contact, it is uncertain how they will interact. Katharine may not be a stranger to the Blake plateau, but somewhat tellingly, she has never lingered long in the area. Thanks to Mary Lee and Katharine, researchers may be about to get a golden opportunity to examine the territorial nature of great white sharks.

[Image: Ocearch via WFLA]