Gone Missing: A 16-Foot Celebrity of the Ocean

Mary Lee, a great white shark, hasn't sent out a ping in months from her transmitter
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 27, 2017 2:04 PM CST
Updated Dec 31, 2017 3:25 PM CST
A Famous Atlantic Shark Has Gone Silent
This 2012 photo provided by OCEARCH shows scientists tagging a great white shark named Mary Lee off Cape Cod, Massachusetts.   (AP Photo/OCEARCH, Mike Estabrook)

She is arguably the most famous shark in America, but Mary Lee has gone silent. After being tagged with a transmitter by research organization Ocearch back in 2012 off the coast of Cape Cod, Mary Lee gained a legion of loyal followers tracking her ocean journeys. (She has nearly 130,000 Twitter followers.) However, no ping has been registered since June, reports the Post and Courier of Charleston, SC. The good news is that this doesn't necessarily mean the end of Mary Lee: Chris Fischer of Ocearch tells Jacksonville.com that it's more likely the batteries in her transmitter, designed to last about five years, have finally given out. Fischer hopes to see Mary Lee again, but is OK if that never happens.

“I feel like she’s done so much, it’s hard to ask for anything else,” he says. “For any individual shark, she’s undone more of the damage from Jaws than any shark in history, and she’s the most famous shark in history.” Mary Lee was 40 or 50 years old when first tagged, so Fischer figures she has another 20 years of life. Meanwhile, boaters and fishermen are being asked to keep an eye out, particularly off the coast of South Carolina. The 16-foot shark just happens to have a distinctive bite mark in her dorsal fin, raising hopes that if she is still swimming around out there, somebody will spot her. (More sharks stories.)

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