First great white tagged off Florida coast

Published On: Mar 06 2013 05:38:16 PM EST
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -

Lydia is a 2,000-pound, 14½-foot Great White Shark who was caught, tagged and released off the coast of Jacksonville last weekend.

It was just above freezing and blowing 20 knots when fishermen and scientists captured and tagged her about a half mile from the mouth of the St. Johns River.

"It was against all odds. I mean we were just out there putting in our time, freezing cold," Ocearch co-captain Brett McBride said. "Just losing all faith. Is there really even a shark anywhere close by?"
This was the first great white shark ever caught, studied, tagged and released in the Southeastern United States.

"It is not an adrenaline rush. It is not fun," expedition leader and Ocearch founder Chris Fischer said. "It's very stressful and you feel great responsibility going through the process to make sure all the people and the sharks are looked after in the best way possible."

Their efforts are part of a two week expedition to tag great whites and study their behavior.

There's so little known about the ocean giants and researchers hope tracking them will tell them more about where they breed and give birth

"The fact of the matter is these scientists have never been able to get their hands on a large, mature white shark before because they're just too big to handle," Fischer said. "Because of that, we don't have the data to manage their future. We don't know where the nursery is and so we can't protect it. We don't know where the breeding aggregation and is so we can't protect it. And these are the lions of the ocean. They must have a robust future for the ocean to have a robust future."

Once caught, scientists have 15 minutes to mount the tags and collect blood samples and parasites off the shark to take back to the lab.

Researchers install four electronic tracking devices on each shark.

Every time the shark surfaces it sends a signal to the satellite, which anyone can see on Ocearch.org.

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