Katharine The Great White Shark Sets New Course, Nearing Florida And The Bahamas

After a summer spent largely off the Outer Banks of North Carolina, Katharine the great white shark has turned south, and now appears to be headed for either Florida or the Bahamas.

One of the world’s most famous white sharks, Katharine was tagged by Ocearch off Cape Cod in August of 2013. At this time last year, she was swimming along the shores of Massachusetts, joining her fellow great whites there for the late summer season as the sharks took advantage of the region’s burgeoning seal population. In the intervening 12 months, however, Katharine has avoided returning to Cape Cod, first traveling to Florida before settling in almost exclusively off the coast of North Carolina for the year.

Last January, Katharine swam as far south as New Smyrna Beach, before turning northward once again. A unique shark, she exhibits a dramatic coastal pattern that not only keeps her near populated shorelines, but which also keeps her fin breaking the surface of the sea, constantly alerting both researchers and fans to her whereabouts. True to form, Katharine maintained her habit of frequenting coastal waters for much of the year, save for a few notable instances.

In March and again in August, the great white set out east of the continental shelf, venturing briefly into deeper waters. In May, she settled down on the Blake Plateau, a submerged region of the continental shelf located to the east of Florida. Aside from these minor excursions, however, Katharine has called the Outer Banks home for almost all of 2015, having ventured there on her way south in January and even entering the Pamlico Sound, west of Hatteras, at that time.

In recent days, Katharine has moved once more into deeper water, heading on a seemingly decisive course south. As the Weather Channel points out, the great white shark was located east of Georgia by October 11, remaining beyond the continental shelf. When she last pinged on October 19, Katharine had veered sharply inland, on a course that could reasonably lead her to either the Bahamas or the Florida coast. On Sunday, a Twitter page devoted to the shark announced her impending arrival with a message that declared “Hello #Florida… Here I come!!!!”

Katharine is no slouch when it comes to traveling along the East Coast. Ever since she was tagged in 2013, the shark has ventured as far south as the Gulf of Mexico, while rarely going any further north than Cape Cod. Altogether, she has traveled in excess of 16,426 miles over the course of the last 26 months. In just the previous 72 hours before her last signal, Katharine had traveled no less than 110 miles. Her species is capable of swimming at speeds of 15 miles per hour, as National Geographic points out.

Easily one of the most famous sharks tracked by Ocearch, Katharine is something of a social media star, with a Twitter account devoted to relaying her every move. Her fellow Ocearch shark, Mary Lee, has also garnered a massive social media presence following a surprising mid-winter trip to the New York Bight earlier this year.

Wherever Katharine’s course next takes her, it appears unlikely that she will return to Cape Cod anytime before the end of 2015. Though cooling water temperatures will likely keep her south, it remains to be seen where Katharine the great white shark will spend her winter this year.

[Photo by Ryan Pierse/ Getty Images]