Real-Life 'Jaws' Arrives in the Hamptons

A great white named Mary Lee is reportedly off the coast of Montauk, but officials say it doesn't pose a danger to surfers or swimmers.

LONG ISLAND, NY -- A great white shark is currently located off the South Fork shoreline, according to OCEARCH, a Utah-based nonprofit organization, which tagged the shark and is using real-time technology to track it as part of its efforts to learn more about the animal that inspired the Steven Spielberg film "Jaws."

The organization first tagged the great white — named Mary Lee — on Sept. 12, 2012, in Cape Cod, and since then the 16-foot, 3,456-pound carcharodon carcharias has made her way down the coast to St. Augustine, Fla., where she was recorded on Jan. 9.

She started her journey back up the coast on Jan. 10, zigging and zagging around the Carolinas. On Tuesday, at 6:04 p.m., she pinged off the coast of Quogue, according to OCEARCH's map.

As of Wednesday afternoon, she had made her way east, and was about 40 to 45 nautical miles off Montauk Point, the foundation said.

But, Petty Officer Patrick Rogers at Coast Guard Station Shinnecock said there is no cause for alarm, as the shark is heading away from the coast. He spoke to OCEARCH's founding chairman, Chris Fischer, when the the shark was 20 nautical miles off East Hampton. 

Rogers said this is the first time he has ever come across a great white tracking in these waters. 

Fischer explained that "pings" are received everytime a tagged shark's dorsal fin protrudes the water line.

Her movements are being tracked on OCEARCH's website

Mary Lee was named after Fischer's mother. He said Mary Lee is one of the most fascinating sharks he has ever tagged.

“My parents have done so much. I was waiting and waiting for a special shark to name after her and this is truly the most historic and legendary fish I have ever been a part of," he wrote on OCEARCH's website.

According to Fischer, Mary Lee is the second of two Atlantic great whites the foundation has tagged — the first was Genie, who last pinged in Savannah, GA, on Jan. 19.

To date, OCEARCH has tagged some 35 sharks around the world, but none have given away their whereabouts as much as Mary Lee.

Since being tagged, Mary Lee has become a "sensation" along the eastern seaboard, Fischer said.

"Most of the sharks we have tagged swim out in the ocean and we don't hear from them much, but Mary Lee is super coastal — people are following her everyday," he said.

Tagging, said Fischer, is a complex process and involves both researchers and skilled fishermen — once a shark is caught it is brought aboard OCEARCH's vessel using a heavy-duty 50,000-pound lift. The fish's eyes are covered and a hose is inserted in the fish's mouth. It takes researchers about 15 minutes to tag and release the shark.

"Until now, many researchers have never gotten up close to a great white," Fisher said. "And Mary Lee is the first shark in history we are able to track like this."

Tracking Mary Lee and her sister shark, Genie will allow researchers to learn more about the Atlantic great white, Fisher said.

"We don't even know where they breed," he said, adding that Mary Lee is a mature shark, who has the capability to breed. Her age, he said, could range anywhere between 20 and 70.

"We have no way of telling how old a great white is without cutting into its spinal cord and counting it like rings on a tree," he said.

Aside from learning more about the great white's breeding habits, Fischer hopes to dispel the myth of "Jaws," which was purportedly inspired by Montauk shark fishing legend Frank Mundus.

"We hope people become more enlightened and a conversation is started, especially since we opened up this tracker for the world to see," Fischer said. "When we think of a great white, we usually think of 'Jaws' music, but now people are asking what is she doing? Where is she going?"

The organization also offers an educational program for schools that ties math in with the tracking system and hopes that its research will some day affect policy around the world.

"Seventy-three million sharks are finned for soup every year," he said. "If we remove them from the system, the system will collapse."

OCEARCH's work has been featured on the History Channel. To learn more about the foundation, click here and to watch Mary Lee's travels in real-time, click here.

Mark Howell January 30, 2013 at 09:32 PM
Mary Lee, Mary Lee, died at the age of 103, for 15 years she kept her virginity, not a bad record for this vicinity.
Jenny Badua January 30, 2013 at 09:51 PM
Maybe the rich people in the Hamptons eat better food than people in other coastal areas, and are therefore more wholesome to eat. Maybe she is a health conscious shark and she is just simply shopping in the organic section of the sea. Just joking. But all jokes aside, someone over here a few years ago at Solana Beach did get killed by a Great White, the guy was a veterinarian standing in waist to chest deep water. Why a vet? We have no clue, we were all rooting for a lawyer. But sharks don't eat lawyers and politicians 'professional courtesy'!! I'm bad for being an eco-minded person. Humans eat way more sharks than the other way round.
Tom Payne January 30, 2013 at 10:11 PM
I do KNOW it is the BEST MAKO SHARK fishing anywhere !!! guess the great white wants part of the action
Tom Payne January 30, 2013 at 10:12 PM
as long as no JAPANESE are trying to hunt them down for shark fins
Tom Payne January 30, 2013 at 10:13 PM
yes VERY coastal it is LUNCH TIME a coming toward ya
Tom Payne January 30, 2013 at 10:14 PM
whats wong with chkn feet ???
James Troiano January 30, 2013 at 10:16 PM
read it again
Tom Payne January 30, 2013 at 10:18 PM
I have had shark fin soup, NOT all that great and darn expensive == to me NOT worth killing sharks over it ! they got to be crazy !!!
Karen Schumm January 30, 2013 at 11:18 PM
"A great white named Mary Lee is reportedly off the coast of Montauk, but officials say it doesn't pose a danger to surfers or swimmers." Are New Yorkers inclined to go swimming off the coast in January?
R E Walker jr January 30, 2013 at 11:25 PM
just remember that when you go into the water you are no longer at the top of the food chain oh by the way I'm raffling off tickets going be a gator nuddling contest between sherrif joe an OBama held at the OK corral
claudia January 31, 2013 at 12:30 AM
I loved this story! Thanks so much.
patrick425a January 31, 2013 at 12:56 AM
There is a seal haulout on the north side of the Montauk Fork.I was there with my children and we found the remains of a juvenile seal almost bit in half. Perhaps Mary Lee has been searching for them
Bluzulu January 31, 2013 at 01:23 AM
Since being tagged, Mary Lee has become a "sensation" along the eastern seaboard, Fischer said. "Most of the sharks we have tagged swim out in the ocean and we don't hear from them much, but Mary Lee is super coastal — people are following her everyday," he said. She should get a Twitter account. She'd become bigger than Justin Timberlake. LOL
Tom Payne January 31, 2013 at 02:26 AM
havnt laffed so hard in a LONG time a great one Walker terrific ahahah BET ya SHERRIF JOE will win HANDS DOWN ahahaha
Tom Payne January 31, 2013 at 02:27 AM
maybe thats why also so many MAKOS ? == FOOD
scott ulrich January 31, 2013 at 04:31 AM
It's true.......by the freakin' Japanese. Same aholes that still kill whales by the thousands.
Richard January 31, 2013 at 05:40 AM
Richard January 31, 2013 at 05:59 AM
I think it would be in the best interest of everyone if we had a delegation of politicians from both parties in Washington investigating this first hand right on the scene. Line up all members of both congress and the senate in waist deep water and see how long it takes a great white to travel those 30 miles in to shore when they sense a meal of do nothing thieves are in the water. This would be one of the few studies that would turn out to be highly beneficial to EVERYONE in the U.S. I am a fish lover and enjoy feeding them at every opportunity at the lowest possible cost and with the greatest benefits to all concerned. What better way to accomplish this. Can you think of anything better?
Richard January 31, 2013 at 06:12 AM
No gator is going to dine on Obama, they have standards they need to uphold.. Don't forget most Gators in captivity enjoy free lunches and a place to live provided by their keepers. What Gator in his right mind would bite the hand that feeds them? Good thing Gators can't vote, we would have to change the name of the U.S. to the United Socialist States of America.
Jaguar-Guy January 31, 2013 at 12:35 PM
Nice Tom. Doesn't anyone get that ??
jane Gill January 31, 2013 at 12:40 PM
they cut the fins off when they are still alive and then throw them back...its like having a limb cut off alive. i watched a nat geo show where they followed a tagged shark from south africa to australia named Nicole. The lines they set to catch the sharks for the fins are hundreds of miles long. They will eventually wipe out the species and there will not be any more shark fin soup.
mike kelly January 31, 2013 at 01:51 PM
this shark is looking for a good slice of pizza and went to ny for it. after that maybe to new england fora lobster roll.
Hope and Change January 31, 2013 at 02:39 PM
we should have them all shipped to the evelyn alexander wildlife rescue center of the hamptons so those good folks can feed them by hand and "rescue" them.
Hope and Change January 31, 2013 at 03:00 PM
it is obvious in the second picture that the genius with no shoes on isn't close enough to the jaws of that large shark. he needs to actually rub his leg against the nose of that killer in order to prove to me that he is the stupidest person ever. oh, excuse me. i mean.. a real life ocean shark guy... OMG
Gail Simons January 31, 2013 at 05:00 PM
This is awesome! Very cool - thank you for this! Finning sharks is sick and inhumane. Like someone above said, Humans eat far more sharks than sharks hurt humans! Beautiful, majestic creatures to be respected!
Paula S January 31, 2013 at 10:34 PM
Don't enjoy the humor... rich people... eating lawyers. You're giving eco-minded people a bad reputation
123 February 02, 2013 at 12:50 AM
Please don't buy into all the shark finning propoganda. Yes there are wastefull practices that go on in commercial shark fisheries. However there are other legit shark fisheries that exist that are demonized. Alot of what you hear is enviro propaganda. There may be millions of sharks finned each year but most bodies are sold as well and it is a big damn ocean! How may cows are slaughtered each year?
Carrie Harmon February 03, 2013 at 08:25 PM
Awesome freaking story, sharks r amazing
C February 04, 2013 at 03:13 PM
Aren't the great white shark in danger species. I thought they weren't allowed to catch them. They are an amazing creature and should be left along.
David Powell July 27, 2013 at 07:28 PM
The shark finning thing is more China than Japan. With Japan you may be thinking of the Taiji dolphin thing. On morality, remember a Hindu would be very upset at the idea of anyone eating beef from a cow. Also, two big religions, Judaism and Islam, teach their followers to avoid pork. The morality of what non-human creatures to eat has always been relative between different groups of people. The main problem with finning is not only is it very, very cruel but the sharks (Like Bluefin tuna and several other sea species) have been heavily overfished and their populations are way down. Sharks are key to the health of the oceans as predators and caretakers of a sort, keeping populations of other creatures balanced and healthy. As sharks are apex predators and have long life cycles they can't bounce back too quickly once their populations have been driven down. Which is why curbing the taking of the endangered varieties of sharks, especially by industrial scale fisheries, is so important.


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