Great White Shark Mary Lee Visits the Hamptons

Great White Shark Mary Lee Visits the Hamptons

Great white shark and aquatic internet celebrity, Mary Lee, the “Prettiest Shark in the Atlantic,” made her East End debut this month—appearing just four miles off the coast of East Hampton on Thursday, May 12.

The 3456-pound, 16-foot mega-shark was spotted off the south shore of Long Island around the same time last year, when she spent some time in the waters near Jones Beach and Fire Island. But Mary Lee has never come this close to our shores, according data from OCEARCH—an organization dedicated to the real-time tracking of various apex predator shark species, including tiger sharks, bull sharks and, of course, great whites. In the future, OCEARCH hopes to begin tracking with other animals, such as birds and turtles.

The recent Hamptons visitor, Mary Lee, has been tracked since she was tagged near Cape Cod on September 17, 2012. OCEARCH expedition leader Chris Fischer named the shark after his mother, though she’s since developed her own persona through social media, maintaining a “Mary Lee the shark” Twitter account, @maryleeshark, and earning a Facebook fan page.

OCEARCH tracking map of Mary Lee the great white shark

OCEARCH map of Mary Lee’s movements, Graphic: OCEARCH.org

“Yes, dahling, I do like to summer in the #Hamptons. -;(),” she tweeted on May 12, with a picture featuring OCEARCH’s map of her course toward local waters.

Later, the same day, she tweeted, “Maybe a little beach time will help this hangover. -;(),” displaying her trademark twitter personality.

Mary Lee’s whereabouts are updated every time her dorsal fin breaks the surface, sending a signal to a satellite that records her current coordinates. She arrived off the coast of the Hamptons at 1:46 p.m. on May 12. A series of pings tracked her slow approach to the coastline over the next six hours before Mary Lee finally changed her mind and went back the way she came.

As of just after noon on Saturday, May 14, the massive shark’s last known location was six miles off Moriches Bay Inlet, headed in the direction of Fire Island, but things can change quickly during her tour of the seas. The shark, who has gone as far west as Bermuda, has traveled more than 34,000 miles since she was tagged, and she’s been known to cover about 20 miles in a 24-hour period.

Whether or not Miss Mary Lee will return to Hamptons waters is up in the air, but anyone interested in knowing where NOT to swim can keep an eye on her movements at ocearch.org.

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