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Katherine the Shark is Swimming Towards Texas

Jun 19, 2014 02:03 PM EDT
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A massive Great White shark is appropriately heading for the state "where everything is bigger," allowing scientists to track her progress as she makes her way through the Gulf of Mexico.

The 14-foot long, 2,300-pound apex predator, named Katherine, has become something of a social media sweetheart since she first started making appearances off the coast of Florida, even earning herself her own fan-made Twitter handle.

Katherine has made appearances in the waters around Florida's Daytona Beach, Palm Bay, and Vero Beach, as she makes her way further south from Cape Cod waters - where she was first spotted, tagged, and named.

Even swimming a mere 12 miles from the shore, Katherine has generally minded her own business. She is likely the same massive shark who reportedly swam right under a pair of paddle boaters in Florida waters last May without even glancing their way.

But while Katherine doesn't appear to care much about people, people are very interested in her. As one of a pair of sharks tagged by the OCEARCH research team last August, shark enthusiasts can track the shark's progress using the organization's real-time shark tracker.

The team told the Houston Chronicle that a GPS tracker tagged to Katherine's fin pings every time she draws close to the surface, allowing for satellite and computer networks to verify her current location.

This is how the OCEARCH team realized that Katherine had finally meandered further south, out of Florida waters, and is now making a B-line straight for the Lone Star State.

Robert Hueter, director of the center for shark research at Mote Marine Laboratory told the Chronicle that Katherine is showing just how unpredictable these sharks can be - which in-turn makes their population numbers so hard to determine.

"Having them in the Gulf is something we thought happened in the winter time," Hueter admitted. "Every track is giving us new information and going contrary to all the assumptions that we were going on."

According to the OCEARCH team, Katherine last pinged about 100 miles southwest of the Florida coast. In one or two weeks she should be past the Mississippi river and approach Texan waters.

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