Though many great white sharks may have crossed the Atlantic before, none has been documented until now. Sightings from Ireland and the UK have remained unproven, but now, with the help of tracking devices, their exact location is no longer a secret. Lydia is the first great white shark on record to have crossed the Mid Atlantic Ridge. She is being tracked as she is currently heading toward the British shores.
Lydia is a 15-foot great white shark that was fitted with a trackable satellite tag off the coast of Jacksonville, FL. last March. She is being studied as part of the Ocearch scientific project. Scientists are eager to learn about where she goes and why.
Weighing in at 2,000 pounds, she was carefully lifted by a hydraulic platform that is able to hold up to 75,000 pounds and operates off of a vessel, which is situated off the coast of Jacksonville, FL. The entire process of having an ultrasound, getting a blood test and having the tracking device installed only took 15 minutes and was enough to determine that the great white shark was in perfect health and ready for her long journey.
Chris Fischer, the founding chairman of Ocearch, said that Lydia could easily swim to the UK, though he has no way of telling if that is where she is headed. She started out in Florida and turned around once after having gotten quite far. She has traveled a total of 19,000 miles so far. Though it is not believed to be the longest journey taken by a great white shark, as they are known for their long journeys, it is interesting to see he travel patterns.
Fischer thinks that Lydia is pregnant and will lead the team directly to the spot where her baby sharks will be born. Considering her maximum speed of 35 mile per hours, she could easily reach the coast sometime in the next few days.
Dr. Gregory Skomal, a senior biologist, said that she will be the first to cross “from west to east or east to west.” Great white sharks have been spotted in the past, but without documentation, it is all just hearsay. The worldwide hunting ban is allowing the species to grow and experts believe they will be seeing more than once shark off the coast of Ireland in the future.
The Ocearch project is designed to learn more about sharks and their behavior patterns. Lydia is just one of 70 sharks that Ocearch is currently tracking. They have found that sharks are better able to handle cold water than what was previously believed.
Great white sharks are not the only ones that Ocearch studies, however. They have also tagged tiger sharks, hammerheads and mako, as well as others. They hope that allowing the public to share in Lydia’s journey will spark an interest in conservationism. As for where Lydia will go next, no one really knows, but the tracking device will keep tabs on her and provide a real-time report of where the great white shark is at any given time.
By Tracy Rose