Special Report: Tracking Sharks Off Our Coastline- PHOTOS - Local news, weather, sports Savannah | WSAV On Your Side

Special Report: Tracking Sharks Off Our Coastline- PHOTOS

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CHATHAM COUNTY, GA -

Our coastal waters are known for having an abundance of sharks, but one that made its way down our coast last winter got more attention than most others.

She wasn't just any shark.  Her name is Mary Lee, a 16 foot 3500 pound Great White shark that was tagged off the waters of Cape Cod by the non-profit research ground OCEARCH.

What many may find surprising and perhaps a bit uncomforting is just how close Mary Lee came to our coast.  "She had been cruising up and down the coast kind of sticking her nose in and out of various river mouths," says OCEARCH found Chris Fischer.  Mary Lee was the first Great White tagged in the Atlantic by the group, which allowed the world to watch her travels online.  She definitely gets around.  " "She has really blown our mind. She has traveled over 5,000 miles in just six months."  Mary Lee has since moved back north and then headed toward Bermuda.  Another Great White, named Genie, is currently about 50 miles off the coast according to OCEARCH's global shark tracker.

Great Whites have been spotted here before, but it's pretty rare.  Devin Dumont, with the UGA Marine Extension Aquarium on Skidaway Island says that the Department of Natural Resources usually observes a handful of the fierce predators each winter.  It's believed that they could be following the migration of Northern Right Whales.  "Unfortunately the right whales die as the result of boat collisions, and that's kind of ringing the dinner bell for the great whites," says Dumont.  The sharks are usually only nearby the beaches during the winter.

 While Great Whites like Mary Lee may strike fear into those who are getting ready to hit the beach, both Dumont and Fischer say that we are much more of a threat to them than they are to us.  Fischer says that sharks are under attack globally with some 73 million being taken each year for their fins alone—something he says threatens the oceans entire ecosystem.

The hope of the OCEARCH tagging program is that it will allow scientists to gather more data than ever before about sharks like this and be able to follow their travels—learning more about their breeding and migration patterns.

Here more from Chris Fischer from OCEARCH about the project and its importance tonight on WSAV News 3 at 6..

 

https://www.facebook.com/OCEARCH

http://sharks-ocearch.verite.com/

 

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