Great white shark turns tail and heads towards Greenland

Biologist says tagged great white likely to head west as waters cool

The great white shark which has been tracked on home computers as it crossed the Atlantic has turned away from this “green isle” this St Patrick’s weekend and is heading in the direction of Greenland.

Lydia, the one-tonne predator on a course for this coastline earlier this week, was still maintaining her new track northwest towards Greenland yesterday.

"It's not that she doesn't like you, but she may not like your habitat," Massachusetts state senior marine fisheries biologist Dr Gregory Skomal told The Irish Times . The shark, which was tagged by Dr Skomal's team on the Ocearch research project a year ago, set a new record earlier this week as the first such fish to be tracked by satellite across the Atlantic ocean.

Several days ago, she was within 1,200km of this coast, having reached the mid-Atlantic ridge. Dr Skomal judged it an official crossing as she roaming around the mountainous ridge and was “further from us than from you guys”.


However, almost as soon as she began making newspaper headlines, she turned north. Her satellite tag, or “pinger”, which emits a signal when she is close to the surface, placed her just over 1,400km from Ireland yesterday, and just 1,000km from the southern tip of Greenland.

“If she continues on this track, she is going to reach some very cold waters, down to between five and seven degrees Celsius,”Dr Skomal said.”My guess is that she will start heading west, and perhaps southwest, very soon . . . but hey, anything can happen.”

So far, Lydia has covered some 32,000km on her Atlantic “meanderings”, since she was hoisted out of the water and given her tag by the Ocearch team. Her odyssey over the past 12 months appears as series of pink-bead necklaces on the Ocearch web page.

Great whites normally frequent temperate waters, along the coastlines of South Africa, New Zealand, Australia, north and south America, the Mediterranean and into the Pacific. They have been recorded more rarely in cooler waters off Alaska and Canada.

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins

Lorna Siggins is the former western and marine correspondent of The Irish Times