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Mary Lee might be silent, but here comes Harry Etta

One of the most well-known guests at Edisto Beach might have quietly vanished for a while, but another guest is starting to frequent the area’s shoreline.

Mary Lee is a massive 16-foot Great White Shark that was tagged in 2012 by OCEARCH, an international research group. Since her monitoring with the group began, she frequently visited the waters off of Edisto Beach and the nearby St. Helena’s Sound.

Named after the mother of OCEARCH’s chief investigator, the shark Mary Lee even gave birth in 2017 near Edisto Beach to multiple 4-foot-long “babies.”

Her presence along the coast made her a national celebrity, with Mary Lee having thousands of Twitter followers. But, in early June of 2017, the electronic tagging system on Mary Lee stopped “pinging:” this notification occurs when she surfaces.

Her silence occurred while she was near the New Jersey coast – and a lack of her movement made national news. While speaking to a Florida-based newspaper, the Florida Times-Union, OCEARCH’s founding Chairman Chris Fischer said he the batteries on her electronic tag might have died, instead of something more sinister occurring to her.

Since Mary Lee’s departure from OCEARCH’s tagging system, another shark has since been tagged near Edisto Beach. On November 1st, Harry Etta was tagged by the group. Harry Etta is a mature female Tiger Shark. Based on her recent pings, which were documented on Dec.22nd and listed on the OCEARCH Web site, Harry Etta frequents the waters in the St. Helena’s Sound.

She is 12-feet, 2-inches long and weighs 820 pounds. She has since traveled more than 468 miles from the southern South Carolina coast to St. Augustine, Florida.

According to Fisher, who gave frequent interviews to The Colletonian about Mary Lee, the larger sharks being tagged near Edisto Beach and Hilton Head are drawn to the area because of warmer waters. This is a part of their annual migratory pattern south from cooler waters along the North-Eastern coastline.

Other sharks tagged recently near the Edisto and St. Helena areas include white sharks.

Heather Walters (1410 Posts)