You can now read 5 articles in a month for free on BostonGlobe.com. Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

Researchers track great white shark toward Europe

Lydia was captured last March. A team quickly performed 12 tests, inserted four trackers, and put her back in the water within 15 minutes. A tracker on her dorsal fin sends data whenever it his the air. People can follow lydia’s travels online.

Lydia was captured last March. A team quickly performed 12 tests, inserted four trackers, and put her back in the water within 15 minutes. A tracker on her dorsal fin sends data whenever it his the air. People can follow lydia’s travels online.

The mysterious breeding habits of sharks may become a little clearer this spring as a female great white makes her way toward Europe, where scientists are hoping she will give birth.

Monitoring Lydia, a great white shark, has been exciting from the start, according to expedition leader Chris Fischer, who helped place trackers on the shark last year. He and his team from OCEARCH, a nonprofit organization that researches great whites and other predators, found her off the coast of Jacksonville, Fla., where they never knew sharks swam.

Continue reading below

“People thought we were crazy going down to Florida to try and find sharks,” said Fischer in a telephone interview Tuesday.

But Fischer and his team had a lead. Mary Lee, named after Fischer’s mother, is a great white the team tagged near Cape Cod in fall 2012. After she left Massachusetts waters, scientists tracked her to Florida, where they found Lydia.

Lydia, who weighs nearly 2,500 pounds, was captured last March and brought onto the scientists’ boat with a specialty shark lift. The team quickly performed 12 tests on her, as they do on all captured sharks. They took her blood, scraped bacteria off her teeth, ran genetics tests, inserted four trackers, and placed her back in the water — all within 15 minutes.

One tracker, bolted to her dorsal fin, sends data to satellites whenever it hits the air. The results are posted on the OCEARCH website, allowing people to follow Lydia’s travels online, said Fischer.

“People love it,” said Fischer. “It’s nice to see them excited about sharks and not afraid.”

In the year that Fischer has followed Lydia, she has traveled nearly 19,000 miles, sometimes swimming 100 miles per day, he said.

Researchers are tracking sharks because their population is dwindling. Great whites are a threatened species and are likely to become endangered, according to Fischer.

Fischer would like to know where the animals breed, so he can try to preserve those areas and help the population. If Lydia gives birth near Europe, it will open up a whole new area that may need to be watched, he said.

“This is the first documented trip across the mid-Atlantic,” said Fischer. “We know she’s headed for Europe, but why? That’s the $100,000 question.”

Jacqueline Tempera can be reached at jacqueline.tempera@globe.com. Follow her on twitter @jacktemp.
Loading comments...
Subscriber Log In

You have reached the limit of 5 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Already a subscriber?
Your city. Your stories. Your Globe.
Yours FREE for two weeks.
Enjoy free unlimited access to Globe.com for the next two weeks.
Limited time only - No credit card required!
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.
Thanks & Welcome to Globe.com
You now have unlimited access for the next two weeks.
BostonGlobe.com complimentary digital access has been provided to you, without a subscription, for free starting today and ending in 14 days. After the free trial period, your free BostonGlobe.com digital access will stop immediately unless you sign up for BostonGlobe.com digital subscription. Current print and digital subscribers are not eligible for the free trial.