great white shark

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The Inertia

LeeBeth is a 14-foot, 2,800-pound great white shark that is making headlines for a record-breaking journey of over 2,000 miles.

The fish was originally tagged on December 8 off Hilton Head, South Carolina. Atlantic White Shark Conservancy staff scientist Megan Winton was on the first charter of the season with Chip Michalove, owner and operator of Outcast Sport Fishing, when they reeled in the beast and outfitted it with a tag, camera and the name “LeeBeth.”

“She has definitely seen some things. The ocean is a really tough place to make it that long,” Winton told the Boston Herald about the 25 to 30 year-old shark. “She had seal scratch marks all over her, so it looks like she spent some time off the Cape in the northern coastal waters sometime this past summer, and she’s now going down south for the winter.”

Since then, LeeBeth has gone on a journey that has captured the hearts and minds of the internet, who have been tracking her via the AWSC’s Sharktivity app. One February 26, LeeBeth sent a ping from Padre Island National Seashore, near Corpus Christi, Texas. On March 1, she pinged from Laguna el Catán in Tamaulipas, Mexicow. Then, she made the long journey back to Texas for her latest ping, about 100 miles from Sabine Pass.

“LeeBeth has definitely gained the most headlines from all the great whites I’ve tagged,” said Michalove to Chron. “Her going to the beaches off Padre Island really stepped up her popularity, especially since it’s spring break. It’s great for business and it’s been a great shark for the science community to follow.”

However, the shark has been more than just fuel for memes. Scientists have also been fascinated by just how far LeeBeth has traveled. LeeBeth’s ping from south of the border was the furthest west a white shark has ever been tracked into the Gulf of Mexico.

“We don’t know how many white sharks travel that far west, but it’s a good indication they do,” Winton told NBC Boston. “There are only a handful of sharks that have been tracked west of the Mississippi.”

The last few days have seen radio silence from LeeBeth, although that is most likely because her tag hasn’t recently been close enough to the water’s surface to register. As Chron reports, all indications are that she is headed back east, but really who knows where we’ll see her next.


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