Great white shark in the Gulf of Mexico

UPDATE- The satellite tracking map shows that, as of Friday, April 27, “Hilton” the great white shark has changed direction, and is now heading east along the Florida panhandle, toward Panama City.

New Orleans –   Cue the theme music from “Jaws”– researchers are tracking a great white shark in the Gulf!

The shark-tracking group “Ocearch” has been watching the journey of a 1300-lb shark that was captured and tagged a year ago off the coast of South Carolina.

The researchers nicknamed the shark “Hilton,” and every time Hilton breaches the water, the tag on its dorsal fin sends a satellite signal that reveals the shark’s location. For months, the shark dallied up and down the Atlantic coast, before heading toward the tip of Florida and into the Gulf about two weeks ago.

On April 13, Hilton was off the coast of Key West. Then the shark turned north, heading directly for the Florida panhandle.  On April 18, Hilton was west of Tampa, and by Tuesday, April 22, the shark had made it all the way to the northern Gulf, off the coast of Navarre, Florida.

From there, Hilton turned again, and headed slightly south and west, into Louisiana coastal waters. On Thursday, April 26, the shark was tracked to the Port Eads area, near the mouth of the Mississippi.

Great white sharks are uncommon in the Gulf, but biologists say that a few have been spotted along the Florida panhandle over the years, usually during spring and fall when the Gulf water is cooler.

And although sharks may have as many as 300 serrated teeth, this one is not expected to bother humans.  Still, as one jokester put it, the shark was named “Hilton” because that’s where most Gulf Coast beach-goers will stay if they know there’s a great white around.  In their (Hilton) hotel rooms.

You can follow Hilton’s journey on Twitter here.