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April 2017    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 43, No. 4   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Great White Sharks are Back in Florida and You Can Track Them

from the April, 2017 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Great white shark sightings off the East coast of Florida are fairly uncommon. These sharks spend their time in the cooler waters farther north, where they feed on seals and scavenge whale carcasses. However, as reported in the February issue of Undercurrent, a small group of divers encountered an estimated 14-foot (3.5m) long specimen in the waters off Juno Beach. It was the third such sighting in less than a month.

To learn more about the migratory habits of sharks using satellite technology, OCEARCH, a white shark research and advocacy team, tagged a shark they named Katherine in the coastal waters of Cape Cod back in 2013. Then she was 14 feet (3.5m) long and weighed 2300 pounds (more than 1000kg). On the last Sunday of January, her tracking device revealed she was off the coast of West Palm Beach.

She previously visited the Treasure Coast in 2014, checking out Sebastian Inlet, The Monster Hole, Bethel Shoals, St. Lucie Inlet, The Sand Hill, and later, Boynton Beach. A half-eaten blacktip shark washed up on New Smyrna Beach at the end of February gave rise to speculation that this was the work of Katherine.

Another similar size white shark, named Lydia, was tagged off the coast of Florida in 2013 and four years later she had traveled 36,000 miles throughout the northwestern Atlantic and even, uniquely, crossed the mid-Atlantic ridge. The motives behind her odyssey are enigmatic.

You can get real-time tracking of dozens of tagged great white sharks by going to and clicking on a shark of your choice. You'll be amazed to see their routes in the Atlantic and Gulf of Mexico, as they meander through the temperate waters along the coastal eastern states and occasionally into warmer waters further south.

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