It seems Mary Lee’s winter vacation in the sunny South is over.
The 3,500-pound great white shark headed north after spending weeks off the Southeast coast. Mary Lee, one of only two great whites ever tagged in the North Atlantic, got as far south as Jacksonville Beach, Fla., several weeks ago. But in recent days, shemade a bee line north.
On Thursday, she was off Long Island, N.Y. Researchers can’t really say they are surprised because the habits of the great white are such a mystery.
“Lo and behold, Mary Lee goes down there for a little while and then … she’s off Long Island and we realize we don’t know anything,” said Chris Fischer, the founder of OCEARCH, a nonprofit dedicated to studying great whites and other large marine species.
Fischer’s group has tagged dozens of great whites. He led a September expedition to tag Mary Lee off Cape Cod.
“I felt like at the moment, Mary Lee was the most legendary fish caught in history,” he said. “We were … capturing a great white to save it …”
Capturing a great white weighing upward of 2 tons is no easy feat. The expedition used its 126-foot research vessel, designed with a special lift that can bring up 55,000 pounds.
“We bait the shark and once we are pulling on the shark we walk it back to the ship and over the lift. The lift then pulls it out of the water,” Fischer said. While on the boat, a device that relays the shark’s position to a satellite is attached to its dorsal fin.
As many as 100,000 people a day are monitoring the shark’s position.