Great white shark hauled on boat off Cape Cod

Published On: Sep 20 2012 06:16:57 AM HST

Tag along on a boat that searches for the ocean's top killer.

CHATHAM, Mass. -

Three miles off the coast of Chatham sits the OCEARCH, the world's only vessel specifically designed to track, capture, tag and research the ocean's top predator.

The architect is Chris Fischer of the History Channel's "Shark Wranglers." The OCEARCH's goal is to capture great whites, so they can tag and study them. 

And on Thursday, they got the catch of a lifetime -- a 15-foot great white dubbed Genie. Wranglers were able to haul her in after chumming the waters. Scientists then took blood samples, attached a spot-tag and accelerometer to her dorsal fin, and then safely released her. 

The crew has been tracking Genie ever since -- and you can track her progress at OCEARCH.org.

"History was made right here off Cape Cod," Fischer told NewsCenter 5. "For the first time, a North Atlantic white shark was spot-tagged. Now we're gonna be able to solve the puzzle of her life. She will show us her two-year migration." 

Learning that migratory pattern will tell researchers where Genie breeds and gives birth. 

That information is vital to protecting her and her species. 

"They're under assault right now," Fischer said. "Up to 70 million sharks are killed each year for a bowl of soup in China."

On Monday, the team caught another large Great White.

The large female was dubbed "Mary Lee" after the mother of expedition leader Chris Fischer.

OCEARCH said Mary Lee was 16 feet long and weighed 3,500 pounds. She was tagged with several transmitters and released.

The operation on OCEARCH is expensive -- a $2 million endeavor -- and relies mostly on donors.

Soap opera star Joshua Morrow of "The Young and the Restless" is one of the contributors, and spent the weekend working with the crew. 

"We were so moved by their passion for the animals, and what they do," he said. 

State state shark expert Greg Skomal says the recent increase in great white populations off Massachusetts mean Thursday's catch could be a common sight going forward. 

"There are clear indications that we're tagging more and more each year," he said. "We went from tagging eight in 2011, to now we're over 15, 16 in 2012."
 

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