Mary Lee the great white shark broke surface roughly 70 miles due east of Myrtle Beach at 1:40 p.m. on Oct. 15. She’s been swimming along the slope that drops off the Continental Shelf and that’s where she was when pinged by satellite on Tuesday.
A ping is recorded when the shark’s tagged fin breaks the ocean’s surface, transmitting a signal to a satellite and resulting in data that includes the shark’s geo-location. I’ve written here several times about the organization doing the shark tagging, OCEARCH. Read more about them in my newly created category, Meandering Mary Lee.
From her Oct. 15 location, Mary Lee headed north and was pinged twice atop the Continental Shelf adjacent to Wilmington, North Carolina, on Oct. 17. She was approximately 50 miles off the coast then. One ping was recorded at 4:12 a.m. and the second was recorded an hour later.
Mary Lee progresses 10.65 miles a day, according to OCEARCH statistics. But sharks lollygag sometimes in the same area — as we’ve all seen on Discovery and National Geographic channels. They circle potential prey. My guess would be that she swims four times that distance, probably more, in a day. The distance travelled between pings is logged in a straight line on OCEARCH’s great graphs. From Point A to Point B.
Our girl had consistently been heading north along the Continental Shelf slope before being located well off the shore of Cape Hatteras on Oct. 1. I wondered if perhaps she was heading back to the waters off Massacusetts where she was tagged in Sept. 2012. Nope. She doubled back. When tagged by OCEARCH, Mary Lee was 16-feet-long and weighed 3,456 pounds. How big is she now?
Speaking of Massachusetts. Another mature female great white I’ve documented here on DBB, Genie, is hanging out near Nantucket. She was pinged there again on Oct. 8. She has twice passed our way, swimming about 15 miles off the coast. Genie had been a little satellite shy, having not been located for seven months prior to Aug. 22, 2013. She’s been coming out of her shell recently. Since August she’s been pinged a handful of times in the same area.
Nantucket. Cape Cod. Cape Hatteras. Myrtle Beach. I must say. Mary Lee and Genie have good taste.