BEACH HAVEN, NJ — After five days of "ping" silence, great white shark Mary Lee has traveled about 20 miles northbound and is now off the Jersey coast between Beach Haven and Long Beach Township, again.
The 16-foot, 3,500-pound shark was last tracked at 6:54 a.m. on June 17 about 15 miles off the shoreline of Long Beach Island — the same area that she visited on June 1, according to Ocearch’s Global Shark Tracker.
It's the second time in the past three weeks that Mary Lee has been heading north, apparently taking pleasure in going around in circles in the Atlantic Ocean off New Jersey's shoreline. In fact, she reported in her most-recent tweet, "My track on the Shark Tracker since June 1 is almost a complete loop as of this morning."
Social media star Mary Lee has a 117,000-member Twitter following, which continues to grow as her fickleness along the New Jersey coast has only fortified her popularity. In the past six weeks alone, she has brought along some 14,000 new followers.
Since Mary Lee was tagged off Cape Cod, Mass., on September 17, 2012, she has traveled up and down the East Coast — from Nova Scotia to the Turks and Caicos Islands — for a total of some 40,000 miles. Her last appearance off the Jersey coast was May 2016, when she was tracked off Atlantic City before heading north to cooler waters.
Meanwhile, great white Cisco, who was Mary Lee's travel companion for a short time, has ventured even farther north of where he was tagged in October 2016, just off Nantucket, Mass. Currently, the nearly 9-foot, 362-pound immature great white is off the coast of New Hampshire.
Both great white sharks are among dozens of apex predators throughout the world that have been tagged by Ocearch researchers with global positioning satellite (GPS) devices in order to track their movements to better understand their behaviors.
Ocearch registers a ping when the shark’s dorsal fin breaks through the water, transmitting a signal that provides an estimated location. The group then displays a marker on a Google Earth map indicating where the ping was received.
This time of year, great white sharks leave their winter locations along the southeastern United States as water temperatures begin to climb and they head north to colder waters, according to Ocearch, the Park City, Utah-based leader in generating critical scientific data related to tracking (telemetry) and biological studies of keystone marine species, such as great white and tiger sharks.