Shark Week: Where is LeeBeth the 2

Shark Week: Where is LeeBeth the 2

A massive great white shark named “LeeBeth” has been making waves off the coast of Southwest Louisiana. This 14.1-foot, 2,600-pound female shark was originally tagged in South Carolina in December and has recently been tracked near Mexico. Her last known location was somewhere in the Gulf of Mexico. LeeBeth is equipped with a satellite tag that allows researchers to track her movements whenever she surfaces. Additionally, a camera was attached to her dorsal fin to record her environment and movements 20 times per second until it detached after 24 hours.

Researchers from the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy believe that LeeBeth will migrate back to South Carolina as the weather warms up. This massive shark has captured the attention of many, including Atlantic White Shark Conservancy staff scientist Megan Winton and Outcast Sport Fishing’s Chip Michalove. The duo encountered LeeBeth off the coast of South Carolina during Michalove’s first charter of the season. They managed to catch and tag the nearly 3,000-pound shark, marking a significant achievement in their research efforts.

LeeBeth, estimated to be between 25 and 30 years old, has likely seen a lot in her lifetime. The ocean is a challenging environment, and her survival for so many years is a testament to her resilience. Winton noted that LeeBeth had seal scratch marks on her body, indicating she had spent some time in the northern coastal waters off Cape Cod during the summer before heading south for the winter.

Typically, the first few white sharks of the season off South Carolina are smaller, but Michalove’s encounter with LeeBeth was extraordinary. The sight of the massive shark swimming up behind the boat was an adrenaline rush for Michalove, who described the experience as one of the best days of his life. Despite her size, LeeBeth was gentle and showed no signs of aggression.

LeeBeth was named in honor of Michalove’s friend’s daughter, who passed away two years ago at the age of 34. She loved shark fishing, and Michalove believes she was watching over them as they tagged this remarkable shark. The team managed to attach four tags to LeeBeth, including a satellite spot tag that can be tracked on the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy’s Sharktivity app, a pop-up satellite archival tag that will detach in eight months, and the first camera tag ever put on a shark in South Carolina.

The camera tag, retrieved a day after tagging LeeBeth, provides valuable insights into the life of a great white shark. Previous camera tags have shown white sharks hunting seals and other fish or encountering torpedo rays. Winton expressed her excitement about the data collected from the camera tag, likening it to feeling like a kid on Christmas.

The Sharktivity app, developed by the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy in collaboration with the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries and the Cape Cod National Seashore, aims to raise awareness about the presence of white sharks off the coast. The app allows users to report shark sightings and upload photos for confirmation, effectively crowd-sourcing critical data points to reduce encounters and promote safety. Data from sharks with acoustic tags and Smart Position and Temperature Tags (SPOT) are also available on the app.

The app features various icons to indicate different types of shark sightings and detections. A red icon signifies an alert for a confirmed white shark sighting close to a public beach, while a blue shark fin icon indicates a confirmed sighting. An orange shark fin icon represents an unconfirmed sighting, and a yellow icon denotes a receiver that detects tagged white sharks and transmits the data in real-time. A purple icon indicates a real-time detection of a shark tagged with an acoustic tag, and a green icon shows SPOT tagged shark locations reported in real-time.

The goal of the Sharktivity app is to raise awareness and facilitate peaceful coexistence between humans and white sharks. Users can stay informed about white shark sightings and detections, receive push notifications for alerts, and report their own shark sightings through the app.

LeeBeth’s journey and the data collected from her tags provide valuable insights into the behavior and migration patterns of great white sharks. As researchers continue to track her movements, they hope to learn more about these magnificent creatures and promote their conservation.

Source: KPLC, WBUR Boston, Atlantic White Shark Conservancy

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