Track great whites heading toward Texas

You can track great white sharks Katherine and Betsy as they head toward Texas.

Researchers say Katherine, weighing 2,300 pounds, is only about 100 miles southwest from the Florida coast, and Betsy, at 1,400 pounds, is about 120 miles west of Sanibel Island, Fla., reports The Houston Chronicle.

In a week, Katherine could be past the Mississippi River and off the Texas coast, researchers told The Chronicle.

The two sharks were tagged in August off the coast of Cape Cod by not-for-profit research organization Ocearch, which means Katherine and Betsy have traveled nearly 5,000 miles.

The two sharks' current location provides new insight into the animals' movements.

"Every track is giving us new information and going contrary to all the assumptions that we were going on," said Dr. Robert Hueter, director shark research at Mote Marine Laboratory, in an interview with The Chronicle. "Having them in the Gulf is something we thought happened in the winter time."

Great whites are the largest known predatory fish. They are targeted by hunters for their fins and teeth, as well as trophy fishing. Some are also caught as a "bycatch" in commercial fisheries, according to the World Wildlife Fund.

It's unclear the exact number of great whites out there. A 2011 study found only 219 great whites at two sites in the Eastern North Pacific, but new research, released this week by the the Florida Program for Shark Research, puts the estimate at closer to 2,000 or more sharks in the Eastern North Pacific.


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