Lydia the great white shark aboaard a research vessel
Photo by Robert Snow

Lydia the great white shark enters Canadian waters

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In many ways, Lydia is just like any other celebrity. She has over 30,000 Twitter followers (@rockstarlydia), she regularly makes the news, and she tours the globe. The only thing that sets Lydia apart? She’s a 2000-pound great white shark.

Lydia is the first shark ever recorded to have crossed the Atlantic ocean, and these days she’s spending her time off Canada’s east coast. Scientists tagged her with a locator device in 2013, and since then she’s logged 57,000 kilometres of travel distance. Through the website of the ocean research group Ocearch, it’s possible to get regular updates on where Lydia is, and these days it appears she’s enjoying time off the coast of Nova Scotia.

A map of Lydia's movements since 2013
Photo by Ocearch.org
This map shows all the spots where Lydia has “pinged” since 2013, including her most recent location near Nova Scotia.

Scientists aren’t entirely sure why sharks come to the region. As Chris Fischer, chairman of Ocearch told Global News, “We’ve always known that Nova Scotia and Newfoundland were part of the Northwest Atlantic white shark puzzle, but we just are now just gathering information trying to understand what exactly they’re doing up there.”

However, Fischer said that Lydia’s recent moves have them wondering if she might be here for a specific reason: to mate. Currently, Lydia appears to be heading toward Sable Island, an isolated spot 300 km from land. According to Fischer, it may be a good spot for her to eat seals and find a mate. Scientists don’t currently know where great white sharks breed, but thanks to Ocearch’s tracking devices, they are getting a clearer picture of their habits. Lydia has been away from this area for a couple of years, and since sharks’ gestation periods are 18 months, they have speculated the timing may indicate that this is one of her mating spots.

Whatever the reason for Lydia’s visit, we’d like to welcome her back. Lydia, we’re happy to have you (just not too close).

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