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Great white shark tracked to Newfoundland


Kevan Karanjia
Staff Writer

Tuesday, October 29, 2013, 5:38 - Scientists are tracking a shark that has traveled thousands of kilometres to the waters of Placentia Bay, Newfoundland.

It's not everyday you hear about a shark sighting generating excitement but in the scientific community, things are a bit different.

Scientists with a group called Ocearch are excited to find a shark they've tracked - known as Lydia - has traveled all the way to southern Newfoundland, almost 8 months after being tagged off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida.

Ocearch tags great whites all over the world and follows their migratory movements, but Lydia has caught some by surprise.

"Based on what we know about the historical distribution of white sharks, Lydia's movements into Canadian waters are not that surprising," says Dr. Gregory Skomal on the group's website, a senior scientist with the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries. "What does surprise me is that she is going there this time of year when we would expect her to be moving south. This, of course, tells us that we still don't know much about white sharks, but we are learning more very day."

Lydia traveled over 16,000 kilometres to get to Placentia Bay and it's unclear how long she will stay.

Scientists believe Newfoundland attracts sharks because of its large seal population, but more research still needs to be done.

"She [Lydia] is making a great case for more tagging efforts," according to Dr. Simon R. Thorrold on the Ocearch website, a senior scientist with the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. "So now we can start developing a population-level understanding of the causal connections between regional oceanography, prey distributions and the white shark movements."

Ocearch describes itself as a non-profit organization with over 50 researchers from 20 different organizations. 

The group is a leader in open source research, sharing data in real-time with students and the public.

Lydia as well as other sharks can be tracked on the Ocearch website through an interactive map.

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