Chessie, 1200-Pound Tiger Shark, Signals From Virginia Coast

A massive tiger shark tagged last month off the Hilton Head coast by researchers has signaled from the Virginia coastline, continuing a northward voyage that the animal, named Chessie, began several weeks ago.

A satellite tracking tag attached to Chessie's fin sent out a signal at 6:43 a.m. on Thursday morning, according to McLean Patch, indicating that the tiger shark was located roughly 30 miles off Kiptopeke State Park. Chessie had signaled more than 10 different times at locations around the Outer Banks since June 14, and has since moved to northern Virginia, near the Maryland boarder. The shark's tag only signals when her fin breaks the waves, so the frequency of reports indicates that Chessie prefers to remain near the surface as she swims.

First tagged off Port Royal Sound on May 18, Chessie was immediately noted by researchers due to her exceptional size. At 12 feet, two inches in length and tipping the scales near 1,200 pounds, Chessie is the largest tiger shark ever tagged on the East Coast of the United States. As the Inquisitr previously reported, one observer even compared her head to that of a great white shark.Chessie is being tracked by the non-profit group Ocearch, as are other tiger sharks, according to Jim Gelsleichter of the University of North Florida, who collaborates with the group. The tiger shark research was inspired by local fishermen off South Carolina, according to Delmarva Now, who reported a sizable population of the predators in the region. Researchers are interested in determining what draws the sharks to that area, though they have also made the surprising discovery that tiger sharks travel farther than previously thought, migrating north and south.

"It's really refined our understanding of how much they move," Gelsleichter observed. "It tells us more about the energy the animals use."

Like many other sharks tagged and tracked by Ocearch, Chessie has garnered a large and loyal online following ever since she was first documented. An unofficial Twitter account in the tiger shark's name boasts more than 16,000 followers, many of whom follow Chessie's every move with interest.

[Image: Ocearch via the State]