Shark Infested Media

Since the BBC first reported a Great White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias) crossing the North Atlantic Ridge into ‘European Waters’ the media has exploded with every newspaper quivering with reports of a ‘deadly’ shark about to arrive in UK waters within 3 days. Sometimes going as far to encourage paranoia by speculating that there might be more that we don’t know about ‘out there’. The Daily and Irish Mirror even went as far as to incorrectly identify a Porbeagle Shark that had washed up on a beach in Kerry, a species common in Irish and UK waters, as a Great White Shark.

Range of Porbeagle Shark (Lamna nasus)
Range of Porbeagle Shark (Lamna nasus)

I find the reports, the legitimate science fascinating and have found myself exploring the Ocearch Shark Tracker and reading more about their research, although to be honest in the last couple of days their website has been far more sluggish than usual. It is interested that Lydia is the first recorded Great White in the Eastern Atlantic, the scientific community know very little about these creatures and their movements.  If speculations from the expedition leader Mr Fischer that she is pregnant are true she will be able to provide an insight into the location of Great White nursery grounds. The utility of the open-source data is expansive, unfortunately the media coverage seems to be going against the education aims of the project and are turning me off a little. I’m getting a little fed up of hearing about this shark.

The truth behind all of the hyperbole is that a female Great White Shark that has been tagged by the Ocearch team is the first Great White to have been recorded to have crossed into the Eastern Atlantic, to put this in prospective she is approximately 1,600km (1,000 miles) from the western coasts of Ireland and Britain.

Location of 'Lydia'
Location of ‘Lydia’

There is no documented presence of a Great White Shark in British waters, some scientists have in the past speculated that the water is far too cold however data obtained from tracking Lydia’s movements shows that her migratory path includes the waters of Nova Scotia.  Mr Fischer’s research shows that “These sharks have the capacity to deal with very cold water temperatures for long periods.”

The Ocearch team are reluctant to predict her movements, Mr Fischer comments “If you forced me to guess where that was, 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.”

From my ill-informed point of view it looks to me like Lydia is heading towards the Arctic and I would be interested in seeing how far she continues to travel north.

Retraction

I contacted the Shark Conservation Trust to verify the information and they wanted to emphasise that  ‘Lydia’ is not the first recorded Great White Shark in E. Atlantic waters, she is the first to have crossed the Atlantic. Closest verified record (to UK waters) was another female GWS caught in Bay of Biscay off La Rochelle, France in 1977.

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