“Early Start” first told you the story of great white shark when she got dangerously close to Florida’s Jacksonville Beach just a few weeks ago. In September, a group called OCEARCH pulled her out of the water near Cape Cod. They tagged her with a tracker and let her go, nicknaming her "Mary Lee."
"Mary Lee" has since traveled hundreds of miles north and now the massive shark is right off the coast of North Carolina’s outer banks, near Cape Hatteras. You can follow her travels anytime you want on OCEARCH's website. Chris Fischer, founder of OCEARCH who has been alerting authorities when Mary Lee gets too close for comfort, joins us on "Starting Point" this morning with more.
Fischer says OCEARCH’s primary purpose is conducting research regarding where sharks are breeding and where they are giving birth in order to protect those areas, but his duty also extends to sounding the alarm to the authorities when necessary.
“When you have the kind of data, when a 16-foot mature white shark that's over 3,500 pounds comes close to a populated area, I feel an obligation to call,” he says. “Yesterday she was very close to Ocracoke, North Carolina, either right on the beach right in front of it or actually inside the sound, nearby. A few hours later, she popped out off shore. She was very near there.” Fischer contacted authorities right away who then continued handling their own business there. “They were very excited about it”.
As for Mary Lee, she has been very busy in the past two weeks. “She’s been exploring the coast and going in and out and very near a lot of estuaries and river mouths,” Fischer says.
Swimmers in Cape Cod are on high alert this week after a pair of great white sharks were seen swimming just off shore. This comes one week after three other sharks were spotted in the same area, marking the first official shark sightings of the summer.
Beaches have not been officially closed, but the local harbormaster has issued a warning telling swimmers to stay away from the area's seals, which are known to be a favorite snack for the white sharks.
Shark specialist Greg Skomal explains to Ashleigh on "Early Start" this morning why more sharks are making their way to northern beaches during the summer.