A female great white shark has completed a transoceanic journey of 20,000 kilometers in nine months, a feat that has astounded scientists. Ramón Bonfil of the World Conservation Society in New York City and his colleagues captured and tagged the animal off the coast of South Africa in November 2003. The creature made its way to western Australia in 99 days and was back in African waters in August 2004. The shark spent about two thirds of her time near the surface, indicating that she may have relied on celestial cues to navigate. More than just a speed record for a marine organism, the shark's journey suggests that distant great white populations may mix. It also means that saving this endangered species may be more difficult, because even if nations protect the great white locally from human fishing, the shark would be vulnerable in international waters.
This article was originally published with the title "Going the Distance" in Scientific American 293, 6, 34 (December 2005)