It’s Lydia’s “Gotcha Day!”
Four years ago to the day, the Great White was hauled onto a boat off the coast of Florida and fitted with a satellite tag.
Since then, scientists have been tracking her every move.
And thousands of regular people have been following her on Twitter. (She has a thing for emojis.)
Robert Hueter, Director of the Center for Shark Research at Mote Marine Laboratory, says that Lydia has already made history.
We reached him on a boat, in South Carolina, in the middle of another shark expedition.
“She's traveled almost 36,000 miles on a journey ... up and down the coast, throughout the northwestern Atlantic, and even crossing over the mid-Atlantic ridge,” Hueter says. “[She’s] the only shark that’s been shown to do that in this part of the world.’’
The motives behind Lydia’s thousand-mile journeys are still enigmatic.
“She’s been quite a traveler,” says Hueter, “and figuring out her patterns has been quite challenging.”
But even if he doesn’t completely understand her, Hueter feels a connection to Lydia.
He is a member of the team of scientists that tagged her, and she was the first live Great White shark he ever got to touch.
“This fourteen and a half foot huge girl came on board, and I was just thrilled,” says Hueter. “It’s a day I’ll never forget.’’
Hueter's research is not just about keeping tabs on sharks, though. It’s also about saving them.
The shark population is bouncing back in some places, but it has been severely depleted overall.
“When we look at a shark like Lydia we do more than just track them, we’re taking blood samples and all kinds of health assessments, to look at the various threats that they face,” Hueter says. “We are trying to protect these animals to help bring them back, because we know they are critical for maintaining a healthy ocean.”
From PRI's The World ©2016 PRI