May 17, 2015
Earlier this month, a 16-foot, 3,456-pound great white shark named Mary Lee was spotted at the Jersey Shore.
Her movements have been followed since September 2012, when the nonprofit research organization OCEARCH, whose mission is devoted to the study, safety and tracking of sharks, tagged her with a GPS tracking device.
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Since Mary Lee appeared nearby Atlantic City on May 8, her popularity on Twitter has netted her more than 50,000 followers, up from 12,000 less than two weeks ago. While the fake @MaryLeeShark handle is not associated with OCEARCH, the organization does run a site that allows users to track Mary Lee's movements in real time, providing the basis for some of the Q & A fun on Twitter.
WNCN asked @MaryLeeShark, "Any chance you'll swing by the North Carolina coast for Memorial Day weekend?"
Let me check my itinerary. Oops, don't have one. -;() https://t.co/tsfL9nMIuT— Mary Lee the shark (@MaryLeeShark) May 17, 2015
OCEARCH's multiyear project, which tracks hundreds of sharks, is important to shark researchers because with a recent increase in sightings along the Atlantic Coast, there is still much to be learned about mature great whites, the Associated Press reports.
The owner of the @MaryLeeShark handle has only been self-identified as a newspaper reporter located on the East Coast. Via AP:
"The recent explosion of followers has been a lot of fun, but also like a second job. I do everything manually - no robo tweets," the account owner wrote. "The best part is that (@MaryLeeShark) plays a role in helping to replace fear with facts by retweeting and commenting on @OCEARCH tweets. I (try) to be respectful of the important work OCEARCH does and have fun at the same time."