Tracking devices turn sharks into social media stars - FOX 10 News | fox10phoenix.com

Tracking devices turn sharks into social media stars

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TAMPA (FOX 13) -

She's a rock star in the world of great white sharks -- “Katharine” even has her own Twitter feed.

An expedition team called OCEARCH caught and tagged the 2,300 pound creature off Cape Cod last August. She became the buzz of Tampa Bay a few weeks ago after swimming around the Florida peninsula and showing up in the Gulf of Mexico.

Dr. Bob Hueter, the director of shark research at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, says he was surprised as the rest of us when she surfaced about 60 miles away in his own backyard.

“Every time we track one of these animals, it seems to cause us to throw out everything we thought we knew," Hueter said.

Welcome to the Gulf of Mexico

Dr. Hueter says having great white sharks like Katharine and Betsy (another shark tagged last August) turn up in the Gulf isn't usual in the winter.

"The fact that they continued around the Florida peninsula, around the Keys, and then came into the Gulf AND are here at the hottest time of the year -- that's very surprising," Hueter said.

The surprises keep coming as those sophisticated satellite tags unlock the mysteries of all kinds of sharks. Dr. Hueter tagged three female bull sharks in Boca Grande last summer.

One of them, Lori Anne, headed south around the Keys then up the east coast of Florida. Her last ping was off Jupiter.

“We were able to track her for about a month and a half, and that was it. We haven't heard from her since,” Hueter said.

Changing the conversation

Dr. Hueter says all the sharks he and the OCEARCH team are tracking are changing the tone of the conversation, replacing fear with fascination.

"People are coming out of the woodwork saying 'We love sharks! And we think they should be protected,' " Hueter said.

Through Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, all of us can keep tabs on these charismatic animals and new stars of social media.

“So there's nothing to fear and everything to be excited about watching these sharks do their thing," Hueter said.

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More on the sharks of OCEARCH:

Website: http://www.ocearch.org/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/OCEARCH

Twitter: @OCEARCH | @Shark_Katharine

 

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