It might be the dead of winter and no one in East Hampton is thinking about heading into the water now, but the presence of a great white shark in the area is an added deterrent.
The shark being tracked by OCEARCH named “Mary Lee” (more about how she received that name below) swam down to Florida in September but was noticed heading back up the East Coast in early January, the East Hampton Patch reported.
The Patch reported Coast Guard Petty Officer Patrick Rogers at the Shinnecock station saying that he’d never seen a great white in these waters before, but people shouldn’t be too concerned given that the animal is swimming away from the coast.
OCEARCH’s Chris Fischer told the Patch of the 35 sharks the non-profit is tracking none are as “visible” as 16-foot, 3,456-pound Mary Lee. The trackers placed on the sharks “ping” when their dorsal fin surfaces above water, which allows the researchers to pinpoint locations.
“Most of the sharks we have tagged swim out in the ocean and we don’t hear from them much, but Mary Lee is super coastal — people are following her everyday,” he told the Patch.
The Patch continued to explain that OCEARCH’s tagging process takes about 15 minutes and involves hauling the beast aboard their research vessel and keeping a running hose through its mouth during the process.
“Mary Lee is the first shark in history we are able to track like this,” Fischer continued.
And what’s up with the name Mary Lee? The Patch found out:
Mary Lee was named after Fischer’s mother. He said Mary Lee is one of the most fascinating sharks he has ever tagged.
“My parents have done so much. I was waiting and waiting for a special shark to name after her and this is truly the most historic and legendary fish I have ever been a part of,” he wrote on OCEARCH’s website.
According to OCEARCH’s website, the project is tracking sharks to better understand reproductive behavior, behavior of juveniles, seasonal habits and more in order to present data for decision makers to ensure sustainability of the species.
Here’s a video from CNN showing footage of Mary Lee being tagged in September and reporting on the word that was spread when she entered a public beach area in Florida before heading north again earlier this month:
Keep tabs on Mary Lee and other great white sharks tagged by OCEARCH here.
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