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Great white shark tracked by Sarasota's Mote Marine travels 20,000 miles

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A great white shark named Lydia broke scientific records this week. Photo courtesy Ocearch/ Robert Snow A great white shark named Lydia broke scientific records this week. Photo courtesy Ocearch/ Robert Snow
A great white shark named Lydia broke scientific records this week. Photo courtesy Ocearch/ Robert Snow A great white shark named Lydia broke scientific records this week. Photo courtesy Ocearch/ Robert Snow
A great white shark named Lydia broke scientific records this week. Photo courtesy Ocearch/ Robert Snow A great white shark named Lydia broke scientific records this week. Photo courtesy Ocearch/ Robert Snow
A great white shark named Lydia broke scientific records this week. Photo courtesy Ocearch/ Robert Snow A great white shark named Lydia broke scientific records this week. Photo courtesy Ocearch/ Robert Snow
This map shows where Lydia has traveled. Photo courtesy Mote Marine This map shows where Lydia has traveled. Photo courtesy Mote Marine
SARASOTA, FL (WFLA) -

Over the weekend, Mote Marine scientists made a ground-breaking discovery that challenges anything they ever knew about great white sharks.

Officials tracked a shark swimming into the Eastern Atlantic for the very first time. Scientists are waiting to see if the shark heads toward the European coast.

In March 2013, Mote Marine scientists were a few hundred yards off the coast of Jacksonville when they caught a great white shark they named ‘Lydia.'

They attached some satellite tags on her, and let her go, not knowing how far she'd travel. Dr. Bob Hueter with Mote Marine Lab says she's gone quite a ways since then.

"It totals about 20,000 miles that she's covered in one year," said Dr. Hueter.

But on Sunday, Lydia did something no scientist has ever seen.

"Now she's actually technically in the Eastern Atlantic, which is the first evidence of any white sharks from the U.S. coast crossing over to the European side," said Dr. Hueter.

"It opens up whole new vistas to us in understanding the movement patterns of these animals, their habitats and their status in the world's oceans."

It can all be tracked online thanks to Ocearch and a team of researchers. Scientists can only guess what she's doing there- maybe feeding, or preparing to give birth.

"Of course all of our predictions have been wrong up to this point, so predicting something is kind of easy to do because it probably won't be right," said Dr. Hueter.

Now scientists are eager to see where she swims to next. Dr. Hueter believes she may swim closer to Ireland, or possibly return towards Florida.

If there's one thing scientists have learned, it's that conservationists must cross international boundaries to care for these majestic creatures.

"We've got to work together with our friends in Europe and Africa and so on to really preserve these animals for future generations," said Dr. Hueter.

Lydia's trans-Atlantic trip is opening up a whole new world of research. Her satellite tag is designed to work for another four years, so we'll just have to see where she goes.

Track Lydia here: http://www.ocearch.org/#SharkTracker

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