The massive great white shark, Katherine, is back. The shark had been missing for over a year but has just been tracked off the US’s eastern coast.
She originally went missing back in May of 2019. As of April of this year, most scientists had heard from her was through a weak tracking signal. They were recently able to take a reassuring breath when her signal came back strong enough to confirm her identity. They were also able to gather her location.
“Basically, the [tracker] sends a signal to the satellite, but it is not strong enough to communicate all of the data needed to get a location for the animal,” the organization said in a statement.
Researchers confirmed that Katherine’s signal pinged multiple times on Saturday, so they were positive it wasn’t a fluke. She was swimming in deep waters off the North Atlantic, hundreds of miles from the US’s shore.
Once a shark comes to the surface to breach, the tracker pings back information to researchers. When Katherine didn’t send any information for over a year, it was thought that she wouldn’t be heard from again.
Great White Puzzle Piece
“This is a record for our Atlantic SPOT-tags that normally only send white shark data to us for about five years,” said Bryan Franks in a statement. Franks is an Assistant Professor of Biology/Marine Science at Jacksonville University and also works with Ocearch.
This is Katherine’s seventh year giving them data. The Ocearch team said, “it’s exactly the type of data that we are looking for to help put the NW Atlantic #greatwhiteshark puzzle pieces together.”
The Ocearch team tagged Katherine back in 2013. Ocearch is a nonprofit that is a “data-centric organization built to help scientists collect previously unattainable data in the ocean”. Her data has helped them learn more about where female white sharks migrate to in the North Atlantic during their three cycles of pregnancy.