A 2,000 lb. great white shark researchers call, Lydia, is making her annual swim into Bahamian Waters.
The 14.5-foot female was tagged two years ago near Jacksonville, Florida, and has since logged close to 35,000 miles of ocean travel.
Armed with a twitter handle (@RockStarLydia) and a GPS unit mounted to her dorsal fin, Lydia has been catapulted from the depths to relative sea-mammal fame after she arrived in the waters off the United Kingdom last year, becoming the first documented great white to cross the Atlantic Ocean.
Ocean researchers have long suspected great whites to be capable of such a journey, but none had ever been previously documented doing so.
According to a report published in National Geographic, “The shark [Lydia] now also holds the distinction of traveling the farthest of any known great white. This champion swimmer blew past the previous record holder, a female that swam from South Africa to western Australia and back—crossing the Indian Ocean both ways, for a total of 12,427 miles in 2004.”
The data collected from Lydia has shed new light on the apex predator's ocean-spanning habitat, illustrating a much larger reach than scientists once thought.
Scientists are hopeful that the data gathered from Lydia will help pinpoint where great whites tend to give birth and that her presence on social media will help raise public awareness of the species (read, in a non-Jaws sense), assisting conservation efforts.
OCEARCH, the nonprofit organization that tagged Lydia in 2013, is a world leader in open-source research. The organization provides data in near-real time for free through the Global Shark Tracker, enabling students and the public to learn and observe sharks alongside PhDs.
According to OCEARCH's website, over 50 researchers from more than 20 institutions have collaborated with OCEARCH to date with over three dozen research papers in process or completed.