Great white shark Katherine crashes site's servers

"We’re definitely at a time where we’ve seen major advances in our ability to do this work," said Jim Gelsleichter.
By Brooks Hays  |  June 19, 2014 at 6:08 PM
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SARASOTA, Fla., June 19 (UPI) -- Katherine, one of 47 great white sharks tracked by OCEARCH, has found a following among scientists, members of the media and everyday fans.

So many are logging on to find out where Katherine's gone, in fact, that OCEARCH's servers have briefly crashed over the past several days.

OCEARCH is a non-profit research organization dedicated to the study of the ocean's most fearsome predators, and Katherine -- known as Katherine the Great in the newspapers -- has quickly become one its biggest stars. The 14-foot female is especially popular in Florida, where she's hugged the coast for the last several weeks.

The 2,300-pound shark has now made her way around the tip of the Sunshine State and is enjoying the warmer waters of the Gulf just off the coast of the Panhandle.

"On average, we're collecting 100 data points every second -- 8.5 million data points per day. It's just phenomenal," explained Nick Whitney, a marine biologist with the Mote Marine Laboratories in Sarasota, Florida. "Second by second, we can pick up every tail beat and change in posture."

Being able to precisely track so many great whites all at once has allowed marine biologists to gain a new understanding and appreciation of the sheer complexity of the predator's migration. Another OCEARCH favorite, Lydia, trekked across the Atlantic and back in the last six months.

"It's rewriting the story," University of North Florida shark expert Jim Gelsleichter said of OCEARCH's research efforts -- on which he's collaborated. "We're definitely at a time where we've seen major advances in our ability to do this work."

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