UNF scientist: No cause for alarm with great white shark Katharine off our coast

by: Jamie Smith Updated:


JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Katharine the great white shark has returned to our waters.

She pinged twice over the weekend and on Monday morning, the tracker on the 2,300-hundred pound shark pinged off the coast of St. Augustine.
It appears Katharine is heading south. Action News met with Dr. Jim Gelsleichter, who runs the University of North Florida’s shark biology program. He was part of the team that joined Ocearch biologists tagging the great white named Katharine back in August 2013 near Cape Cod.

“Anytime a shark surfaces, it sends a signal to satellite. It's almost like GPS positioning,” Gelsleichter said.

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The tracking device allows scientists or anyone else to follow her movements in the water. It now shows the 2,300 pound great white, who's been here before, back in the waters off our beaches.

With this GPS technology, scientists are changing their opinion about where these big sharks spend most of their time.

“We used to think white shark was primarily an ocean species. Now our view is it's primarily a coastal species that moves off shore periodically,” Gelsleichter said.

Katharine was so close to shore she pinged just a few hundred yards off the beach at the Ponte Vedra Inn and Club<Drive? Avenue?> at 12:46 p.m. on Saturday.

Some find that fact a bit disconcerting.

“I'll swim in there. But I don't want to swim with the sharks,” said Mary Dunlap.

But Gelsleichter said there's no cause for alarm.

“There's never been a reported attack of a bather in Florida or by a diver by a white shark,” he said.

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