Great Migrations: Scientists Track Great White Across Atlantic For The First Time
Published June 9th, 2014
The Great White shark is one of the most feared predators on planet Earth. Stalking the seas on our planet for millennia, the Great White is viewed with fear and respect by citizens in countries around the globe. Some nations, such as Australia, are much more familiar with the Great White shark than others. The presence of these deadly predators off the Australian coast has led to the loss of human life a number of times.
As a result, the people of Australia have a strong respect for the power of this beast to go along with a healthy dose of fear. Those living along the East and West Coast of the United States are also familiar with the Great White, but its presence beyond these waters is not always understood or appreciated.
That is why a team of researchers from Ocearch.org set out to help raise awareness of the Great White around the world by tracking the migration pattern of one Great White shark. In the process, the team made a breakthrough in tracking one female Great White as she embarked on a journey across the Atlantic Ocean.
Researchers with Ocearch.org tagged a 2,000lb female Great White roughly one year ago in Jacksonville, Florida. Nicknamed Lydia, the researchers has been using the geolocator tag to track Lydia's movements since March 2013 and have made history in the process. As of mid-March 2014, Lydia was powering her way across the Atlantic Ocean toward the European continent and British Isles.
This represents the first documented case of a Great White shark migrating across an entire ocean in search of a different home environment. Upon last tracking, Lydia was crossing the mid-Atlantic Ridge (a rough boundary between East and West Atlantic) and is likely bound for the waters off the coast of Ireland or Britain.
Significance of the Event
Beyond simply documenting the first ever crossing of the Atlantic Ocean by a Great White, the tagging and subsequent tracking of Lydia's journey highlights the fact that these predators are migratory creatures whose responsibility for protecting falls not upon one locale or community, but rather on the global community.
Great White populations along the Pacific Coast of California and Mexico, for example, are thought to be in danger of extinction. According to Oceana.org, there is a significantly lower adult population than previously estimated. Commercial fishing nets are ensnaring young Great White sharks and depleting the population in the region.
The Great White shark may be viewed primarily as a predator, and threat to humans in the water, but it does serve a purpose in the ocean as do all other forms of marine life. Great Whites, as a top marine predator, are responsible for helping maintain a healthy natural balance to the food web in oceans around the world. Lydia's trip around the globe highlights the remarkable nature of this ocean predator, and calls the attention of nations around the globe to an animal that faces extinction at the hands of human activity in all corners of the globe.