Nfld. & Labrador

Lydia the great white shark has a schedule to keep

It's the time of year everyone seems to have a schedule and things to get done, and it turns out great white sharks are no different; at least one of the sharks has been tracked making another trip to the waters around Newfoundland.

Scientists hoping tracking will show them shark's mating grounds to help rebuild population

A great white shark nicknamed Lydia has been tracked returning to the coast of southern Newfoundland this fall, her second year in a row. Research group Ocearch first tagged and named the great white shark Lydia near Jacksonville, Fla. early in 2013. (Submitted by Ocearch)

It's the time of year everyone seems to be on a busy schedule — and that goes for great white sharks, too. 

A great white shark named Lydia, which is being tracked by researchers, has become something of a social media celebrity, with a Twitter account tracking her progress. 

That route, which again has taken her close to waters off Newfoundland, is giving scientists plenty of information about how sharks move around in the first place. 

"It's obvious that these sharks aren't aimlessly wandering around out there in the ocean," said Chris Fischer, who works with the non-profit research group Ocearch. 

"They are on a schedule, they know where they're going, and they know — they have some sort of internal calendar," said Fischer.

Last fall, Lydia — which has a GPS unit attached — was tracked off southern Newfoundland in the Grand Banks area.

Scientists with Ocearch are hoping Lydia's repeat visit will help them figure out mating habits of the in-danger species.

Ocearch has been tracking Lydia's swimming patterns since she was tagged in 2013. As of this week, she's travelling north again to the southern coast of Newfoundland. (Ocearch)

Fischer said Lydia's travel habits shows there may be some sort of pattern, and he hopes it offers them insight about the great white mating habits.

Lydia has become the company's star shark; she surprised scientists when she travelled from Florida to Newfoundland last fall, when most locals are trying to vacation somewhere warmer.

The company even started a Twitter profile, with the handle @RockStarLydia.

She also became the first shark to be tracked swimming across the Atlantic Ocean.

It's obvious that these sharks aren't aimlessly wandering around out there in the ocean. They are on a schedule, they know where they're going.- Chris Fischer, with Ocearch

Now, after another summer near Florida, Lydia has trekked back up to Newfoundland. But this time she seems to have company — another mature female, nicknamed Mary Lee by Ocearch.

"That means that Lydia and Mary Lee should be going somewhere right now to mate, and there is an outside chance that both Lydia and Mary Lee could reveal a mating site to us in the next month or so," said Fischer.

Even for a star like Lydia, leading scientists to a shark mating site would be a feat for the history books and, maybe, an important step in the fight to save the species.

"The white sharks … they are the lions of the ocean. They are the balance keepers and we do not know, and still are learning, where they're mating and giving birth so we can help them recover to abundance," said Fischer.

"There will be no fish for our children to eat if there's not lots of sharks."

The public can track Lydia's movements, and the movements of all the sharks tagged by Ocearch, on its website.


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.