Flora and Fauna

Why Did The Possibly Pregnant Shark Cross The Atlantic?

NPR | March 12, 2014 12:50 p.m.

Contributed By:

Mark Memmott

You kind of have to admire headlines such as this:

UK-bound great white shark Lydia could be PREGNANT

That’s the Mirror doing its best to scare folks into reading its report.

The story behind the scary headline, though, is interesting.

Ocearch, a non-profit organization that studies “great white sharks and other large apex predators,” last year affixed a tracking device to a great white it dubbed Lydia. She was found and tagged near Jacksonville, Fla.

In the year or so since she’s been tracked, Lydia has traveled about 19,000 miles, the BBC writes. But it’s where she’s been in recent days that has really gotten the researchers attention: She’s on the eastern side of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge. That makes Lydia the first great white that scientists have been able to track from one side of the Atlantic to the other and into colder waters of the North Atlantic where it was thought great whites might not wish to swim.

Anyone can follow her travels on Ocearch’s website. In the past 24 hours, she appears to have turned even a little further east. She’s about 1,000 miles from the coast of Ireland.

The part of the story about Lydia possibly being pregnant comes from Ocearch’s founder, Chris Fischer. He tells the BBC he thinks she’s been “out in the open ocean gestating her babies, and that this spring she will lead us to where those baby white sharks are born — the nursery.”

Fischer goes on to say he doubts that shore-goers of the British Isles have to worry about Lydia delivering 2 to 12 pups in their swimming waters. “If you forced me to guess” where she’ll give birth, Fischer says, “I’d say it was over in the Mediterranean, near Turkey. … But that’s longball I’m playing. She could turn around right now and head back to Florida.”

Meanwhile, is Lydia having some fun with her trackers? We noticed, as did one of her fans, that on one part of her journey it looks as if she was drawing a picture of herself.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

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