Track It: 14-foot great white shark lurking off Gulf Coast

Katharine the great white shark is being tracked for research and public safety. (Source:
Katharine the great white shark is being tracked for research and public safety. (Source:

PALM BEACH, FL (WVUE) - A 14-foot-long great white shark is lurking somewhere off the coast of the Florida panhandle and headed towards Louisiana.

The 2,300-pound beast is being tracked by OCEARCH, a non-profit organization that collects information on great white sharks and other large predators by using satellite tracks and other forms of data.

Katherine is taking a tour around the Sunshine State, getting as close as four miles off the coast of Key West on May 27. As of Wednesday morning at 6:10 a.m., Katherine was about 60 miles off the coast of Panama City. The shark has been making its way up Florida's west coast over the past month. Katherine has traveled about 105 miles over the past 72 hours and more than 4,850 miles since it was tagged.

Katharine was tagged off the coast of Cape Cod, MA on August 19, 2013. The shark is named after Katharine Lee Bates, a Cape Cod native songwriter best known for her poem and son "America the Beautiful."

OCEARCH hopes its data provides better public safety and conservation. The group captures sharks that can range between 2,000 and 5,000 pounds on average. Scientists raise the sharks on a custom lift, complete 15 minutes of research, tag the sharks, and release them back into the water. They say the tagging process causes "some level of brief discomfort," but there is no evidence that it has an impact on the shark's survival after its release.

Katherine, also known as Kat for short, could be near the Mississippi River next week if she continues on her present course and at her current pace.

You can follow Kat's track here. And, of course, on Twitter @Shark_Katharine.

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