Researchers recently tagged and released a great white shark off the coast of Jacksonville.
Scientists from the group Ocearch caught the one-ton female Sunday afternoon near the Mayport Naval Station.
Researchers took blood and tissue samples from the shark, which they named "Lydia." They also installed four tracking devices meant to log the shark's travels through satellites and undersea acoustic monitoring.
"The kind of things that can help us understand the reproduction of the shark," says Chris Fischer with Ocearch. "We use some of thelatest technology in tagging, one of which is a spot tag that gives us their location every time they come up finning. People can track the sharks live on the Global Shark Tracker."
Technology has also allowed the researchers to track details of the shark's body movements and tail beats. The blood and tissue samples will be used for genetic analysis that can help compare shark populations in the western and eastern Atlantic and off the African coast.
The Ocearch team is attempting to tag a healthy sampling of sharks from Cape Cod to South Florida. "The more, the better," said Dr. Nick Whitney with Ocearch. "But certainly we shoot for about 10 or so. If we can get more, that'sgreat!"
Fischer said there is still much unknown about great white sharks and their mating habits, so the team hopes to understand the fundamental parts of their lives, in order to protect their future.
"There's no robust path forward for the ocean without lots of sharks in it," he said.
It might be a little unsettling for Floridians to know that, not surprisingly, these great whites come close to shore. "We always knew they came close to shore, at least on occasion," said Dr. Whitney.
A second large, mature shark was spotted in the Jacksonville area recently, the researchers said, but it refused to take bait to enable tagging. This gives them hope that there will be other opportunities to tag great whites off the coast of Florida.
You can track sharks tagged by Ocearch on their shark tracker website here.