Yes, indeed, great white shark and social media aficionados — it looks like @MaryLeeShark, as she’s known to her close to 95,000 Twitter followers, may well be joining other celebrities this weekend in the Hamptons. But then again, maybe not.
A visitor to the waters off Long Island this same time last year, Mary Lee was spotted through the Global Shark Tracker on Thursday about 8 p.m., in waters an estimated 4 miles off East Hampton. By close to 6 p.m. Friday, though, she had done an about face and was heading away from shore.
Top predator of the sea that the shark is, Mary Lee’s Twitter identity certainly has quite the sense of humor explaining, perhaps, her enviable following.
Her tweet from shortly before 3 p.m. Thursday:
“Yes, dahling, I do like to summer in the #Hamptons -;() @OCEARCH @Hamptons” (32 retweets, 93 likes)
Followed at a little past 4 p.m.:
“Maybe a little beach time will help this hangover. -;() @EastHamptoncom @OCEARCH #Hamptons” (18 retweets, 110 likes)
Around 7:30 p.m. Friday, though, she said:
“Enough fun in the sun. Let’s head back out to sea. -;() @OCEARCH @Hamptons”
Still, the real-time tracking and social media posts — the @MaryLeeShark Twitter feed was actually created by a fan — are efforts for engaging and informing people about a more serious issue. That’s the loss of some 100 million sharks a year, many ending up in shark fin soup, says Chris Fischer, founding chairman and expedition leader of OCEARCH (think ocean and research). A research and educational nonprofit, its tracker is monitoring the comings and goings of some 300 tagged sharks, mostly great whites and tiger sharks, worldwide.
The great white is an “apex predator,” meaning top of the food chain, according to Ocearch.org
As such, it’s the ocean’s “balance keeper,” without which the populations of second tier predators, such as squid, would “explode like locust,” Fischer said, gobbling up fish like tuna that humans, celebrities in the Hamptons included, like to eat.
While he can’t say for sure, it’s Fischer’s best guess that Mary Lee, tagged in 2012 off Cape Cod and named for his mother, is heading back to those birthing grounds off Massachusetts to mate.
His gut, he said, is telling him that “she’s just passing through.”