Joan of Shark: Biggest Great White Tagged in Australia Closes BeachesBy: Kathy Karadza - April 18, 2014
The largest Great White Shark to be tagged in Australia, nicknamed “Joan of Shark,” was spotted swimming close to beach in Albany, in Western Australia’s southern coast, leading city officials to warn residents to stay out of the waters earlier this week.
The female Great White Shark, named “Joan of Shark” by local fisherman, measures over 16 feet long (5.3 meters) and weighs about 1.8 tons (1.6 metric tons), was first tagged close to Mistaken Island, in waters just 15 meters deep several weeks ago. Measuring 5.04 meters to the fork in her tail and 5.3 meters total, scientists believe she is largest shark to be electronically tagged in the country.
Officers from the Fisheries Department fired an external tracking device into the shark and tracked her for three weeks.
A week later, she was lured to shallow waters near the beaches in Albany by, scientists believe, the distress signals from a humpback whale that was beached there over the weekend, and later died.
“Joan” was tagged at Albany by the officers for a second time, this time with a more sophisticated tag in her stomach, after a two-and-a-half hour struggle. The second tag will enable them to track the shark, which is believed to be about 30 years old, for at least a decade on more than 300 monitors that are located on the seabed, and via satellite.
The arrival of “Joan” near Albany was detected via signal from the first tag on Tuesday morning off of Ellen Cove, a popular beach in Albany. Authorities closed the beach and prompted swimmers to stay out of the water.
The whale carcass was removed, but the shark is still in the waters.
“Obviously, with that whale incident and because of the distress signals that it would have sent out, it would have attracted sharks and they will probably frequent the beach for the next few days,” said Martin Kleeman, a spokesman for the state department of fisheries.
Kleeman referred to the first tagging of “Joan” as “potentially a world first.”
“For the next 10 years, we’ll be able to keep a track of her movements, which is going to open up a whole new world,” Kleeman said.
“We’ll have a better understanding of the large-scale movements of white sharks,” he said.