For those of you who have been tracking Twitter favorite, Mary Lee, the 50+ year old great white shark tagged by the OCEARCH organization, and whose adventures have been posted on Twitter to the delight of her followers, rest assured that the most probable reason the great lady has not been heard from since mid-June 2017, might be as simple as a dead battery in her tracking device.
With more than 125,000 Twitter followers, the popular Mary Lee has been a visitor to the eastern seaboard and waters off the Hamptons over many years. She was last tracked enjoying the waters off Beach Haven, New Jersey when her ping was last heard. A ping, for those unfamiliar with the term, “Is determined when the tagged shark’s dorsal fin breaks the surface of the water and transmits a signal to a satellite overhead. The transmission then sends back an estimated geo-location.” However, remember that those trackers will only ping when the shark surfaces and sharks don’t have to surface to breathe.
OCEARCH Founding Chairman and Expedition Leader Chris Fischer, who created the organization with his wife in 2007, and whose organization has had the only known human contact with Mary Lee, recently revealed that he believes Mary Lee is alive and that her tag may have just run its course. Having led more than 28 global expeditions “To advance science, public safety and education,” the odds are in Fischer’s favor that he is correct. Also, considering Mary Lee’s last known location was a mere 20 miles northeast of Atlantic City, it might be a safe bet that this majestic creature is alive and well.
Fischer, well-known for his Emmy award-winning television program, “Offshore Adventures,” along with his commitment to sustainable catch-and-release fishing, became more and more involved in marine wildlife conservation, and in particular shark tracking for research and biological studies, which eventually led him to start OCEARCH.
This is good news for the sharks as “All of the data that OCEARCH collects is open source, allowing researchers to transcend institutional affiliations and get important information to the best and the brightest minds in the scientific community.”
Since its launch, OCEARCH has tagged more than 200 animals and completed 28 expeditions as of earlier this year. The mission is simple and straight-forward: three expeditions a year; invite academics and scientists on-board for hands-on observation and participation, and then write a published paper which is then shared with others. This keeps the dialog open, fresh and everyone, particularly the sharks, benefit.
Additionally, cleverly utilizing social media to drive interest to conservation, the shark-tracker allows fans to track and watch their favorite shark in real time. The “sharks” maintain their own Twitter accounts and offer up opinions on everything from conservation to current events. This approach to educating the masses has generated a following exceeding many billions utilizing digital media, and has allowed STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) driven curriculums in both elementary and middle schools access to students to track the sharks as part of their studies “Based on the Global Shark Tracker and the Next Generation Science Standards (NGSS).”
For the last posted updates on Mary Lee, go to twitter.com.
For more information on OCEARCH, go to www.ocearch.org.