SARASOTA, FLA. -- Last August, Dr. Bob Hueter, Director of the Center for Shark Research at Mote Marine Laboratory, worked with a team of scientist from Ocearch to tag great white sharks off the coast of Cape Cod. Once tagged, every time the shark's dorsal fin breaks the surface of the water, it transmits a signal and provides the location of the shark.
“Really it is the kind of thing we dreamed about doing as shark biologist 15 years ago that now has come to reality,” said Dr. Hueter.
Anyone can log onto Ocearch.org and see where sharks, like the 14 foot, 2,300 pound, great white named Katharine, have been swimming.
“It is real science and it is in real time.”
Thanks to pings from Katharine’s tags, we know she has been hanging out in the Gulf of Mexico. On Wednesday she was about a hundred and forty miles off the coast of Sarasota and her fin broke the surface of the water three times.
“This is just revealing what has always been there,” said Dr. Hueter. “It doesn’t change the odds of them coming in to the beach or certainly the odds of them bothering a swimmer.”
Katharine is not the only white shark being tracked in the Gulf. Betsy, a 12 foot, 1,400 pound great white shark tagged in Cape Cod, is also swimming in the Gulf of Mexico this summer.
“We typically thought of them being out there more in the winter time, so this is kind of a surprise to biologist,” said Dr. Hueter.
Dr. Hueter says because of the tracking program, scientist are now learning valuable information about the great white sharks range, habits and how to protect them.
“In the case of the white sharks, we are talking about a species that needs protection,” he says.
There is no denying the fact that there are lots of sharks in the water around Florida, but shark attacks are relatively rare if you look at the statistics, and most sharks, including Betsy and Katharine, go out of there way to avoid humans.