Sunday, 9 December 2012

Scientists track great white shark hanging out at NC coast

If not for the GPS device, no one would know she’s here.

A great white shark affectionately dubbed Mary Lee by scientists and adopted by thousands of online fans has been using the waters off North Carolina’s coast as a private all-you-can-eat buffet.

There’s no way of telling if many boaters or tourists have crossed currents with the celebrity shark that’s as large and as heavy as a family sedan. Mary Lee’s admirers are following her movements at a safe distance – by laptop, iPad and at the office.

Mary Lee is the first great white shark to be tracked by a GPS-type device that provides real-time data as to her whereabouts. Dozens of great whites have been tracked this way, but none in the Atlantic, where they are rare, and their subaquatic habits are shrouded in mystery.

Each time the shark’s fin breaks the surface of the Atlantic Ocean, the $1,000 device bolted to its fin signals a satellite, and the shark’s position appears on an online map, expressed in Greenwich Mean Time. Some sharks rarely surface, but Mary Lee has come up more than 100 times, sometimes multiple times a day.

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