Rare great white shark experiments unlocking the animal's secrets

SARASOTA - The 15 minute capture of Lydia, a great white shark, off the coast of Jacksonville last week was a rare event.

Scientists from Mote Marine Lab in Sarasota had previously been in contact with great whites, but the 14-foot, 2,000 pound animal is the latest hope in understanding how they live.

Scientists worked hurriedly, yet carefully, to attach a variety of sensors and equipment to track where and how Lydia moves.

Dr. Robert Heuter says it's a help.

"With this finding of Lydia and another shark that we didn't catch, we're now understanding maybe they're a little bit closer to the shore than we thought," he said.

Dr. Heuter says great whites are an animal we hear so much about, yet know so little.

He says we still have to unlock where, how and why they migrate, mate and feed.

Lydia is one of the animals they're proud to be able to work with.

"One of the sharks we're tacking now, Mary Lee, a big, big female about 16 feet, is rewriting what we thought we knew about their feeding and mating habitats. So every one of these tracks is revealing new information for us," Dr. Heuter says.

The equipment is bolted to the fin, and occasionally sends back information of the animals movements.

Blood samples and information are relayed back to Mote Marine Lab and carefully examined.

Dr. Hueter says great whites have been seen off the coast of Tampa Bay before, and that with this massive undertaking, it could also possibly be a public safety exercise, knowing when these animals could come to shores where people swim.

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