A mature female great white shark nicknamed Lydia was tagged off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida in March of last year. Since then, the researchers have been keeping a close eye on her. This weekend, almost a year later, researchers saw that she was on her way across the Atlantic Ocean. It was a milestone, since there had been no records documenting such a feat by a great white. Lydia’s current position is east of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, and she seems to be headed towards the coast of the Cornwall peninsula in the U.K.
The discovery that great white sharks can make long-distance trips has started to change the way science regards the species. For instance, it could be a factor when looking at the ways to conserve the shark population. According to Bob Hueter of the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium, if sharks are to be saved, scientists and advocates must not only protect the animals where they live, but “also work with other countries towards global conservation.”
Lydia now holds the distinction of traveling the farthest distance of any known great white shark. She has covered around 20,000 miles, including her trips along the East Coast of the United States. In 2004, another female great white was discovered to have swam from South Africa to Western Australia and back. Her journey back and forth across the Indian Ocean was tallied at 12,427 miles.
Advances in technology have enabled scientists to track large predators such as Lydia. The group that developed the method used to secure and tag her, Ocearch.org, shows a real-time track of the great white on its website. Lydia’s tag, attached to her dorsal fin, is tracked by satellite. When she swims, her dorsal fin rises above the water’s surface, and the tag transmits location data.
Before Lydia’s tag was developed, scientists made use of archival tags that stored information until these were retrieved. Researchers then downloaded the data to recreate where the shark had been.
Watch "Lydia", the great white shark, get ready for the Atlantic Ocean
Image via Wikimedia Commons