A 14 feet-plus great white shark named Katharine, has appeared once again off the US east coast after a year-and-a-half.
A transmitter which was attached to her dorsal fin had not sent out a definitive message for the last year-and-a-half. The transmitter was attached off the coast of Cape Cod in August 2013, and it is roughly half the size of an iPhone. The transmitter is meant to send out a ping whenever the shark breaks the ocean surface.
According to a map maintained by Ocearch, who is tracking her, Katharine went for a long period without surfacing. However, she did surface off South Carolina in May 2019.
The Ocearch group said that they might have heard from Katharine "about 200 miles off the coast of Virginia", but was definitely recorded recently only hundreds of miles off the same state.
Dr Bryan Franks, of Jacksonville University, recently posted an update and wrote; "Katharine is alive and well … Katharine pinged in multiple times yesterday, confirming it was not a fluke." He also added that tags used on Atlantic white sharks "normally only send data to us for five years".
Franks added that it was "very unusual for us to hear from a shark for this length of time, and it’s exactly the type of data that we are looking for to help put together the puzzle pieces or her life, and other [north-west] Atlantic great white sharks like her. Katharine showed movement patterns indicative of being a reproductively mature female white shark with trips during some winters out into the open ocean.
"Her tracks over the past seven years up and down the coast from Cape Cod to Florida, and with long forays to the Grand Banks of Newfoundland, the eastern Gulf of Mexico, and the offshore Atlantic, may cover the movements of two or three cycles of pregnancy and birth of her pups. She has already provided an incredible dataset with more than 1,700 locations, covering 37,000 miles of ocean since the day she was tagged. It will be fascinating to see where her next moves may be."
The majestic great white was named for Katharine Lee Bates, the 19th-century lyricist who wrote America the Beautiful.
Soon after she resurfaced at an ugly time for American democracy, the great white’s Twitter account began tweeting again, and Katharine asked her 62 thousand followers; "Miss me?" Adding, "So everyone knows YES I was wearing a mask when I came up."
Katharine is not the most popular great white on Twitter. A shark called Mary Lee has 132,000 followers and, according to Ocearch, her transmitter has not pinged since June 2017.