LONG BEACH ISLAND, NJ — Mary Lee, the great white shark that New Jerseyans love to follow, spent last night moving up the coastline and was last tracked about 30 miles off Long Beach Island.
Traveling about 50 miles northward overnight, the 16-foot, 3,500-pound shark pinged in at 5:20 a.m. today, June 1, some 30 miles east of LBI, according to Ocearch’s Global Shark Tracker. The global positioning satellite (GPS) system also showed that she has made a quick turn inland in a 30-minute period.
The last time Mary Lee was tracked to a similar spot was in November 2015, when she was pinged near Sedge Island, situated south of Island Beach State Park near Barnegat Inlet. At that time, nautical experts said it would be highly unlikely she could maneuver through the shallow waters of the Barnegat Bay in that area.
This time, she had a traveling companion — Cisco, a nearly 9-foot, 362-pound immature great white — who has not been pinged since May 30 when he was some 30 miles off of Cape May. He was tagged off Nantucket, Mass., on October 7, 2016, and has traveled a total of some 2,300 miles.
Since she was tagged off Cape Cod on September 17, 2012, Mary Lee 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, where she was tracked off Atlantic City.
Mary Lee is among dozens of apex predators throughout the world that have been tagged by Ocearch researchers with 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.
For great whites that travel the East Coast, it is the time of year they leave their winter locations along the southeastern United States as water temperatures begin to climb and they head north to colder waters.
For Mary Lee @MaryLeeShark, her travels have drawn particular attention on social media. She recently reached the 112,000 mark in Twitter followers, and the tweets keep on coming in as she tracks up the coast, like this one from Kimberly Rooker: "So cool my Mary Lee is off the Jersey coast, I went to Atlantic City for the Miss America 1983, Mary Lee would win the Queen’s crown today!"