Meet Helen, a Great White Shark who often visits Mossel Bay

Ocearch’s tracking technology allows researchers to monitor sharks movements throughout the world’s oceans, providing valuable insight into their behavior and their range.

Each shark is tagged with a tracking device that is inserted through their dorsal fin, and whenever they break the surface of the water, a signal is transmitted to a satellite. The satellite then sends back an estimated location of the shark.

Each of these ‘pings’ give researchers an accurate, real time location of a particular shark, allowing them to collect data about each individual.

During the tagging process, tests are done on the shark which determines their species, age, sex, weight, length and stage of life. From the data collected a profile is then setup for the shark on Ocearch’s official tracking website.

Researchers are then able glean the extent of the shark’s territory, the distance they have covered since their tagging and monitor their behavior.

This also allows members of the public to observe each shark’s movements and possibly dive in the area it occupies, all the while knowing a bit of the animal’s history.

Expectedly, each shark displays their own particular habits, which coastlines they prefer and the depth at which the like to swim. It’s interesting to follow a particular individual and see what they get up to, how much distance they cover in comparison to other sharks and whether they prefer shallow or deep waters.

Profile: Helen

Helen the great white shark

Photo credit: www.ocearch.org.

Species: Great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias)

Gender: Female

Weight: 346 kg

Length: 3.1 metres

Stage of Life: Immature

Total distance covered: 7139.05 km

Tag Location: Mossel Bay

One such shark is Helen. Tagged off the coast of Mossel Bay, Ocearch has been tracking Helen’s movements since March 2012.

Helen is a female great white shark from Southern Africa whose spend most of her time in the great white hotspot of False Bay. Great whites can live up to 70 years old and judging by her weight and length, Helen is some way off maturity.

She rarely spends time away from the Southern African coastline, apart from a handful of trips out to the southern Atlantic where the fish are apparently far tastier and there is less competition from the other sharks.

2016 has been by far her most active year according to the tracker. Often frequenting the beaches of the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, Kwa-Zulu Natal and sometimes as far as up the coast of Indigo Bay in Mozambique, potentially on a holiday.

It seems Helen has grown uncharacteristically fond of the warmer waters in recent years, and has gravitated further up the coast as she has gotten older. Oddly, Mossel Bay does not seem to be on the list of her favourite places, despite her being tagged there.

Although she still maintains a fondness for the popular great white destinations of Gansbaai and False Bay, both shark cage diving hotspots.

With some luck, you may be able to catch Helen in Shark Alley in the next couple of weeks on your next shark cage diving expedition.

She’s easy to spot due to her lighter shade of grey and exceptionally groomed set of teeth. Book your next great white shark tour with Shark Bookings and even if you don’t spot Helen, there’s a good chance you’ll spot one of her mates shark cage diving in Cape Town.

Credit: All data found on www.ocearch.org.

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