Saturday 27 December 2014

Great white shark on path for Ireland could be first to cross Atlantic

A great white shark which is currently heading for Europe could become the first recorded member of its species to cross the Mid Atlantic Ridge

Miranda Prynne

Published 08/03/2014 | 13:10

The Ocearch project aims to tag sharks to learn more about their movements, biological behaviour and health.

A great white shark, set to become the first recorded example of her species to cross from one side of the Atlantic to the other, is heading for British shores.

Lydia, a 15-foot (4.5m) giant, is currently 1000 miles from the Cornish coast and keeping to her current path, with a maximum swimming speed of about 35mph, she could arrive within a few days.

US scientists have been tracking Lydia for 19,000 miles after fitting her with a satellite tag near Florida as part of the Ocearch scientific project.

The 2000lb ocean predator has travelled 380 miles in the last 72 hours and is currently near the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

If she swims over the divide she will be the first recorded Great White to make the crossing.

Dr Gregory Skomal, senior fisheries biologist with Massachusetts Marine Fisheries said Lydia was now closer to Europe than North America.

He said: “No white sharks have crossed from west to east or east to west.

“Although Lydia is closer to Europe than North America, she technically does not cross the Atlantic until she crosses the mid-Atlantic ridge, which she has yet to do.

"We have no idea how far she will go, but Europe, the Med, and the coast of Africa are all feasible.”

Dr Skomal added: "She would be the first documented white shark to cross into the eastern Atlantic."

Lydia was first tagged off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida, in March 2013.

She is currently around 3, 000 miles from her starting point.


The Ocearch project aims to tag sharks to learn more about their movements, biological behaviour and health.

The team used a 34,000kg hydraulic platform to hoist Lydia from the water in order to fit the tracking device.

Operated from their research vessel the M/V Ocearch, the machine allows scientists to safely lift mature sharks from the water.

Ocearch is currently tracking around 70 sharks.

Watch the video of how OCEARCH tagged and released the first great white in Florida waters, Lydia

Though Lydia's journey is impressive, great whites are known for their marathon migrations.

In 2003 a great white nicknamed Nicole travelled from South Africa to Australia and back - a whopping 12,400 miles.

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