One-ton shark headed to Texas coast

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Story highlights

  • Researchers follow the progress of a pair of 2,300-pound great whites
  • Katharine and Betsy were tagged off Massachusetts' Cape Cod in August
  • A researcher says the sharks' tracks are surprising for this time of year

At 14 feet long and 2,300 pounds, it's only fitting that Katharine is heading for the land where everything is bigger.

This massive great white shark was most recently spotted 100 miles off the Florida coast in the Gulf of Mexico, headed toward Texas. And as of June 5, another great white, Betsy, was about 140 miles west of Sarasota, Florida.

In August, researchers from the nonprofit group Ocearch tagged Katharine off Massachusetts' Cape Cod, along with the 14-foot long, 2,300-pound shark Betsy. Every time the sharks surface, their tags send signals to a satellite that can then pinpoint their locations, which can be viewed in near real time on the Ocearch website. So far, each of these sharks has traveled over 1,400 miles.

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It is estimated that Katharine will be past the mouth of the Mississippi River in a week and will enter the waters off Texas not long afterward if she keeps to her current course. A researcher says the sharks' paths are surprising for this time of year.

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"Every track is giving us new information and going contrary to all the assumptions that we were going on," Dr. Robert Heuter, director of Mote Marine Laboratory's center for shark research, told the Houston Chronicle. "Having (sharks) in the Gulf is something we thought happened in the wintertime."

These huge sharks' irregular behavior comes on the heels of the catch of a rare goblin shark in Florida in May and the closing of an Alabama beach because of a "swarm" of sharks this month. Fortunately for the Lone Star State, scientists will be able to track Katharine as she approaches and keep tabs on her and Betsy for a long time to come. According to Heuter, "These tags can last as many as five years. It gives us a completely different perspective from the older tags."

Perhaps the tags will prove more helpful than the researchers in Cape Cod could have predicted, ensuring that Katharine's Texan size is all that she is remembered for.

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