Great white shark enters Jacksonville Beach waters

Swimmers, surfers urged to stay out of water until shark leaves

Published On: Jan 30 2013 03:28:50 PM EST   Updated On: Jan 09 2013 10:52:49 AM EST
Great white shark Mary Lee
JACKSONVILLE BEACH, Fla. -

A great white shark is being tracked off the coast of Jacksonville Beach late Monday night, and the Police Department is urging people to stay out of the water until the shark leaves the area.

Jacksonville Beach police said they received information about 12:45 a.m. Tuesday from the OCEARCH ocean research group regarding a 16-foot shark was only 200 yards off the beach.

The shark weighed 3,456 pounds when it was tagged on Sept. 17 off the coast of Cape Cod, Mass. She was given the name Mary Lee and is currently tracked and monitored via GPS by the research group.

IMAGES: Great white shark Mary Lee tagged by researchers

"No one had ever figured out how you catch a 5,000 pound shark, give someone 15 minutes with it and let it go alive and, we've really finally pioneered that method," said Chris Fisher with Ocearch.

Interactive map of great white sharks near Jacksonville Both sharks they've tagged came to Florida.  When Mary Lee entered the surf zone at Jacksonville Beach, the research group notified local police of the shark's presence. There were no swimmers in the area at the time of the report.

At midday Tuesday, the shark have moved about 15 miles offshore ... good news to surfers along Jacksonville's beaches on Tuesday.

"It's not the only great white that's swimming out there. It just happens to be one that we're tracking," said fisherman Jack Ashley.

The group also advised police that a second great white named Genie, which was tagged off of Cape Cod, was moving about 40-60 miles off the coast of Jacksonville.

University of North Florida research biologists are studying the great whites track as part of a new shark research program on campus.

"It's a large collaborative, multi-agency effort between UNF and researchers in Massachusetts," said Mike McCallister. "It's a pretty unique opportunity for UNF and unique for Florida."

Their goal is to help people understand more about sharks since more than 73 million sharks are killed each year.

"The coolest thing is everyone can follow them in real time with the PhDs because we make all that information public," Fisher said.

For any tracking information regarding the sharks, go to OCEARCH's website or Facebook page. For more information on sharks or to report a great white shark sighting, click here.

Due to the size of the shark and the potential dangers, police recommended that beachgoers stay out of the water until the shark leaves the area.

"I'd still go in the water -- my choice -- but I'm pretty sure my parents aren't go in the water," one young surfer told Channel 4's Hailey Winslow.