Experts: ‘Mary Lee’ not likely a threat for triathlon swimmers

FORT FISHER, NC (WWAY) — A great white shark is again making a big splash off our coast.

Mary Lee has become a local celebrity of sorts. The 16-foot, 3,500-pound great white is back again swimming along our coast giving those who see her quite the encounter.

Jason Atkinson says he was returning from a boat trip near Masonboro Inlet when he spotted something large in the water.

"When we got close to it, it didn't dive down or anything, so it stayed right on the surface next to the boat, and it was about the full length of the boat, and you could see it clear as day that it was a great white," he said.

He says the shark's fins stuck out at least two feet before it dove back underwater.

The shark may have been Mary Lee. This big shark is one of the first of its size to be tagged for tracking.

"We can now put a device that's on Mary Lee called a spot track, and every time she sticks her dorsal fin out of the water for five years, it beams in her location," said Chris Fischer, founder of, which tagged Mary Lee last year.

With the PPD Beach2Battleship Triathlon this weekend, we wanted to know if swimmers should worry about becoming Mary Lee's breakfast.

"I don't think so, but I do think it's also common sense to just follow the tracker, and if she happens to be in right on the beaches where a tremendous amount of people are getting in the water, it's important everyone has that information before they make choices on what to do," Fischer said.

Fort Fisher Aquarium's Marc Neill says he does not think the shark is a threat either.

"I really wouldn't think so," Neill said. "I'm certainly not going to say that you don't want to be cautious, but the odds are obviously extremely minimal."

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You can also check out Mary Lee's Facebook page

Categories: New Hanover

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