Want to track Great White sharks? There’s an app for that.
Well, an online GPS tool, anyway.
The Ocearch Global Shark Tracker allows you to follow the navigational pattern of 36 of the animals that have been fitted with beacons.
They have been tagged by the non-profit research group Ocearch around the coasts of South Africa and the US.
Ocearch's shark tracker website lets users follow over 30 Great Whites
It’s not the most action-packed web viewing but it is fascinating to see where these mysterious – and often misunderstood – creatures lurk and wander to.
One tagged Great White, Mary Lee, travelled all the way down the US east coast to Florida and apparently no one knows why...
Chris Fischer, Founding Chairman of Ocearch, told Huffington Post UK that his team has been constantly amazed by the distances the sharks cover.
He said: "We are surprised often. They travel thousands of miles annually. The females have a two-year migratory loop while the males have a one-year path. Those migrations begin and end at breeding aggregations that we have identified for the first time in history.
"Nursery areas are massive. The sharks can travel up to 80 miles a day continuously for weeks."
The tracker does have a serious purpose, though, aside from marvelling at the sharks' stamina - namely to provide migratory data that can be used to help with the conservation of the animals.
The Ocearch website explains that sharks, after all, play a crucial role in maintaining the oceanic ecosystem.
Great White shark Mary Lee being tagged and studied by Ocearch and Dr. Greg Skomal prior to her release in Cape Cod in the US
Mr Fischer said: "The purpose of the tracker is to pour the life of the white shark and the magic of our oceans into every science classroom around the world.
"To leverage the charismatic nature of the shark to educate and inspire the public and to allow the whole world to watch as we solve the life history puzzles of the sharks. The public and the PHDs watching and learning at the same time.
"By fundamentally changing science community access to the oceans' giants we make massive leaps forward in knowledge to collect new data to affect policy correctly, leverage the sharks charisma to educate, inspire, and create awareness about finning.
Sea-ing is believing: The incredible meanderings of Great White shark Mary Lee
"Up to 73 million sharks a year are finned for a bowl of soup and it's unsustainable.
"As sharks disappear, we are risking the ocean. They are the great balance keepers of the ocean. The lions of the ocean. If their future is uncertain then the future of the ocean and thus the planet is uncertain.
"It's just an unsustainable bad trade - the future of the ocean and planet for a bowl of soup."
Water big beast: A Great White called Genie is released back into the water by the Ocearch team
Recently, the vulnerability of the Great White was highlighted by the tracker when a signal from a female shark called Brenda Fassie began emanating from a village in southern Mozambique, strongly indicating that she had been caught and the tag taken ashore.
“We expected this to happen... One of our aims of research is the idea of mortality these sharks are facing out of South African water,” Alison Kock, research manager for Shark Spotters, told IOL Sci Tech.
Great White sharks are fearsome hunters - but researchers stress they're not the mindless mean machines the media often portray them as (file picture)
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