It is a phenomenon that doesn't occur every day, but as we all know, anything is possible in the big blue ocean. The waters off of the southern tip of South Florida are one area that you wouldn't expect to see a great white shark on a day of diving. However, resident divers have become familiar with a certain great white shark who goes by the name of Katharine.
Just shy of one year ago, the non-profit organization that reaches out globally to research great white sharks and other large apex predators living with a motto of 'educate, inspire and enable', OCEARCH, captured this 2300 pound creature off the waters of Cape Cod and tagged her in order to track her path. This has enabled OCEARCH to keep in tune with Katharine's route over the past year, taking her all the way down the Atlantic eastern seaboard. She has stuck close to the state of Florida and ultimately has begun to move further southward around the Florida Keys, very close to Dry Tortugas National Park and headed to the Gulf of Mexico into warmer waters.
Katharine's restless nature has intrigued scientists. Being able to track her every movement from Cape Cod all the way to the Gulf of Mexico is considered a very historical ocean event.
While finding a great white shark in these waters is uncommon, Katharine is not alone. She has a friend who is just as restless and was also captured and tagged at the same time as Katharine. This great white shark is 1400 pounds and goes by the name of Betsy. She began to investigate the Gulf sooner than Katharine did, being tracked to waters close to Bonita Springs, Florida on the west coast of the state.
OCEARCH seems to be in tune with the ocean conservation initiative. In the near future, the organization is hoping that with the data that they have gathered, they will be able to use the findings to protect the species, their migratory route and the ensuing breeding areas.
Founder of OCEARCH, Chris Fischer, had this to say about what is taking place, "We're defining the range of the white shark. One of the things you have to do to protect these great apex predators is, first, you've got to define the range. And we don't even know what that is."
"We now know that these white sharks are moving all along the eastern and southern coasts of Florida. We just didn't really know that they were doing that all along. The awareness level has skyrocketed," Fischer said.
It is because of organizations such as OCEARCH that progress is being made towards ocean conservation on a more global level.