Great white shark named Lydia becomes first known white shark to cross Atlantic

Great white shark named Lydia

Great white shark named Lydia during the tagging process last March; photo by Ocearch

A tagged great white shark named Lydia on Sunday became the first known white shark to swim across the Atlantic Ocean.

The 2,000-pound female shark, which was tagged by Ocearch scientists last March off Jacksonville, Florida, crossed the mid-Atlantic ridge on Sunday morning, officially entering the eastern Atlantic.

Stated John Chisholm the Massachusetts Shark Research Program, on the Ocearch Facebook page:

Great white shark named Lydia

Lydia’s position Sunday morning; photo by Ocearch

"Truly a momentous occasion, Lydia has etched her place in the history of Atlantic white shark research and showed the power and value of SPOT tagging. She is singlehandedly raising awareness around the world."

Added Bob Hueter of Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium: “Lydia’s remarkable trans-ocean journey reminds us that no one locality, state, or nation owns these remarkable migrators of the sea. If we are to save the sharks, we have an obligation not only to protect them in our waters, but also to work with other countries towards global conservation of sharks.”

Lydia, one of several white sharks fitted with SPOT tags in an attempt by Ocearch researchers to learn more about their movements, had traveled nearly 19,000 miles in various directions since she was tagged.

Great white shark named Lydia

Great white shark named Lydia during the tagging process last March; photo by Ocearch

Late last week, as it became clear that Lydia was approaching Europe and the mid-Atlantic Ridge, scientist Heather Marshall stated: “Lydia continues to surprise and impress all of us following along, with her initial run and impressive navigation to Bermuda last spring, followed by a sustained amount of time in cold water in Canada, and now her continued movements east across the Atlantic, have highlighted the incredible migratory ability and physiology of these sharks."

Though this marks the first time a great white is known to have crossed the Atlantic, either west to east or east to west, the apex predators are known to travel great distances.


Lydia’s position Sunday morning. Credit: Ocearch

A great white nicknamed “Nicole” was tracked swimming from South Africa to Australia and back--more than 12,000 miles--over a span of nine months in 2003 to 2004.

Adult great white sharks off California and Mexico, it was discovered over the past decade, routinely travel as far west as Hawaii during the spring, before returning to their fall and winter feeding grounds at coastal and island seal rookeries.

While it remains unclear where Lydia is going, Skomal did not rule out a voyage into the Mediterranean or along the coast of Africa.

Of course Ocearch Facebook followers have their own ideas.

Commented Cynthia Harless Wallace: "She's heading to Ireland for St. Paddy's Day of course."

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