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Record-Breaking Journey - The Great White Shark's Incredible 3,218km (2,000 Mile) Migration from South Carolina to the Mexico Border

A 4 metre (14-foot) female great white shark that biologists nicknamed “LeeBeth,” who has a tracking tag, has traveled over 2,000 miles since Dec. 8, from the waters off the coast of Hilton Head Island in South Carolina (USA)to Matamoros, Mexico, near the Texas border on the Gulf Coast. 


Her journey to the waters near the border marked the farthest into the Gulf of Mexico biologists have ever tracked a white shark. She has traveled over 2000 miles since the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy (AWSC) staff scientist and Outcast Sport Fishing tagged her off Hilton Head, South Carolina, on December 8th! LeeBeth’s long-distance movements highlight why international coordination is critical for white shark conservation.


a map with satelite tags of a white's journey
LeeBeth's journey started off the coast of South Carolina and reached Mexico!

Researchers are able to use LeeBeth’s journey as evidence that the Gulf of Mexico might support more white sharks than previously thought.


LeeBeth, who tips the scales at around 1180 kilograms (2,600 pounds), is an especially easy shark to track because of how frequently she breaches the water’s surface. When she does so for longer than 45 seconds, the tracker on her dorsal fin connects with overhead satellites that ping AWSC researchers. It was a big deal when she pinged off the coast of South Padre Island National Seashore, just north of the international border. This was already farther than any great white had ever dipped into the Gulf. But she kept working south after that. 


A map of her journey shows that she hugged the east coast of Florida before wrapping around the southern tip. Then, she stayed away offshore along the West Coast. She returned closer to land again on Alabama’s sliver of coastline before swerving far out around New Orleans. Then she checked back in very close to Padre Island and in the deeper ocean near Matamoros. She has since swum back north, pinging near Sabine Pass on the Texas-Louisiana Coast.


“Covered in scars from chewing on seals, she swam off with a satellite spot tag that you’ll be able to track on the Sharktivity app, a (satellite)tag that’ll detach in 8 months.

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