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The Downside Of Tagging Great Whites

March 31, 2013

The research about their migrations is valuable. But knowing that they are along your coast or beach could create dilemmas.

Lesley likes the beach, too.

Lesley likes the beach, too.

Pete Thomas reports on a tagged great white that has been hanging around close inshore along South Africa:

Shark spotters were put on alert Saturday in the Fish Hoek/Kalk Bay area in South Africa after a tagged great white shark was tracked swimming along the coast (see graphic).

The female shark, one of several great whites tagged by the nonprofit group OCEARCH, is named Lesley. She measured 13 feet, 8 inches and weighed 1,742 pounds when she was tagged off False Bay on April 15, 2012.

Knowing a great white is there is bound to make authorities nervous (they know they are generally there, but it is different when you have a position and track).

How long will it be before someone suggests preemptively capturing or killing Lesley? This is scientific research that aims to HELP sharks, but here’s what public safety officials are thinking about: the public outcry if a shark whose presence and whereabouts were known  injures or kills a swimmer. For that reason, OCEARCH is potentially putting the great whites it tags into danger.

I’m sure OCEARCH has thought about this dilemma. I wonder how they plan to handle it, and whether it has already come up.

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