OCEARCH, a scientific organization, is conducting GPS tracking of a great white shark off the coast of North Carolina. The shark has been named Mary Lee and has gained a significant fan base. OCEARCH’s website is posting the movement of Mary Lee here http://sharks-ocearch.verite.com/ for people everywhere to view. The websites servers have been overwhelmed by as many as 2,000 unique visitors in one day and 75,000 visits in one week. The sheer numbers are evidence of the public’s fascination with the apex predators of the sea.
“This is the real-life Jaws, bro,” Chris Fischer said, OCEARCH’s project manager responsible for tagging the shark. “I believe that Mary Lee is the most legendary fish caught in history.” True shark lovers cringe at the media’s portrayal of sharks as man-eating monsters, like the famous great white in Jaws. This GPS tracking project allows the public a broader perspective of a great white’s life. The shark attacks that do happen are very rare and only occur when the shark mistakes a human for their natural prey, such as a seal.
Fischer’s team uses a floating laboratory to capture mature sharks for research. The team can collect blood samples, bacteria scrapings and tissue samples from great whites. They calm the large sharks by running water into their mouths with a hose while covering their eyes with a wet cloth. While Mary Lee was captured, she was equipped with a $1,000 GPS device to monitor her movements. This device has an estimated 5-year lifespan and is activated when the shark’s fin breaches the ocean surface.
Jo O’Keefe, a marine life enthusiast from Carolina Shores, N.C. is very pleased with all the excitement this GPS tracking project has brought. He checks Mary Lee’s location three times a day and reports the shark’s location to reporters and friends. “They are thrilled to hear about Mary Lee because she’s massive,” O’Keefe explained. “I wanted the public everywhere she went to share the excitement of a macrocosmic experience.”Google+