Expert Kevin Flannery has said that the imminent arrival of the 1800 pound shark could be the beginning of an influx of the predators into Irish waters.
The Sunday Independent reports that a tagged great white shark called Lydia is set to make history as the first of its species to be witnessed crossing into the north Atlantic.
The 14 foot shark was satellite tagged in Florida last year as part of the Ocearch scientific project.
She is currently swimming just over 1,000 miles off Irish shores and has swum more than 20,000 miles since a tracking device was fitted.
The shark is now hovering on the mid-Atlantic ridge according to the report and Flannery is convinced the great white could be the first of many more of her kind to head across the Atlantic.
He said, “There is no doubt from the current position of the shark, we are seeing a great white heading into European waters for the first time. It is about 1,000 miles away, which is not far in sea terms.
“It could be here in 72 hours if it took a straight line but it probably won’t go directly in a straight line. She is an eating and feeding machine hunting for food.
“There are obviously more of these sharks and there have been in the past but because of the tag we are able to see it for the first time ever. It is fantastic to be able to see this.”
A director at Dingle Oceanworld in Kerry, Flannery told the paper that the worldwide ban on hunting sharks is swelling their numbers and sending them hunting for food in the north Atlantic and towards the coast of Ireland.
He added, “Up to a year or two ago, they were being landed in Spain, Portugal and Africa and all the way up along, so they possibly never made it up to Ireland. This is the first official one which will be recorded in the north Atlantic.
“They are protected worldwide now and there are a greater number of them and more of them which can move further north. Possibly we will see more of them.”
Flannery also believes that Lydia is following a traditional feeding route which is also tracked by other great whites.
He stated, “She is probably on a specific feeding track. They are creatures of habit. The problem was that down through the years they were targeted and killed but now they are a protected species we possibly will see a lot more of them.
“For science, it is absolutely brilliant to see a great white moving into the north Atlantic. There were sightings before off the coast of Cornwall and Northumberland but they were never confirmed. This will prove for once and for all if people have been correct in their sightings.”
The noted marine biologist added that there is no need for alarm even though the Great White has been known to hunt along the shoreline.
He said, “It is brilliant for nature, brilliant for the environmental and brilliant for eco-tourism. I don’t think it is a cause for alarm for people to stay off the beaches.
“They are just another fantastic animal in our waters. I’m over the moon. They would be a huge tourist attraction for people to go out and see if more of them do come close to Ireland.
“The great white will have plenty of opportunity to feed on their favorite meal of seals off the Kerry coast.
“There are around 1,400 seals off the Blasket Islands, whereas one time there was only 200 of them. That shark would be nature’s answer to the fisherman’s problem.”
Here's a video on the initial tagging of Lydia:
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