Great White may be heading this way

Dnal Nolan

Published 12/03/2014 | 05:36

A GREAT White shark that is heading our way could prove a boon to west Kerry fishermen if she decides to make for the Blasket Islands' massive seal colony.

A GREAT White shark that is heading our way could prove a boon to west Kerry fishermen if she decides to make for the Blasket Islands' massive seal colony.

'Lydia' - a 1,800-pound Great White tagged in Florida last year as part of the Ocearch project - is swimming ever closer to Ireland and as of Tuesday was 750 miles off our coast.

It's the first recorded incursion of a member of the fearsome species into the northeastern Atlantic in what is major news for the marine biology community, leading Irish expert and Dingle Oceanworld director Kevin Flannery told The Kerryman.

At the weekend Lydia was 1,000 miles out and heading in our direction, a course she was maintaining on Tuesday 250 miles closer to Kerry shores. Mr Flannery also expects to see more of the Great Whites coming into the general area in the future as a hunting ban on the species is leading to a spike in their numbers.

"She's an eating and feeding machine and it's just fascinating to see her coming so close now in the first recorded appearance of a Great White in the northeastern Atlantic," he said.

Lydia crossed the mid Atlantic ridge after the weekend. "Satellites are tracking her every time she comes to the surface to warm up before going down into the deeper waters to feed. We have recorded them up as far as La Rochelle and the Mediterranean, but thanks to the satellite technology we can see exactly where this one is."

It could spell a break for west Kerry fishermen who are campaigning for a cull of the 1,400 seals around the Blaskets.

"If she comes here she will frighten the life out of the seals. The seals never posed a problem for Blasket Islanders as they were able to hunt and use them, but because of the ban their numbers are growing and they predate on fish caught in nets as the nets are being hauled up. They've got to eat and fishermen have to live, but Great Whites would happily target them," said Mr Flannery.

Meanwhile Castlegregory man Brendan Fitzgerald came across the carcass of a member of the Great White family while walking in Aughascla in Tralee Bay at the weekend. Up to six foot long, it bore all the hallmarks of a Great White with a fearsome looking snout and rows of sharp teeth. Mr Flannery, who inspected the carcass over the weekend, established it as a porbeagle shark, however - a species that is relatively common to our waters.

Kerryman

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