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Mako shark tagged off Texas mystifies experts, turning up off Virginia. How? And why?

A 7.5-foot shark tagged in March off the Texas coast has done something no other tagged mako has done and it’s mystifying researchers.

Named Pico, the male has found its way out of the Gulf of Mexico all the way to Virginia, and it appears to be headed still farther north, according to the nonprofit shark research foundation OCEARCH.

Everything about the journey is a surprise for OCEARCH, which has been following the shark’s movements since it found a way around Florida in early July. Pico has so far traveled more than 4,100 miles, says OCEARCH.

“Pico is showing no signs of slowing down after becoming the first mako shark we ever tracked out of the Gulf of Mexico and into the Atlantic Ocean,” OCEARCH said in one in a series of tweets. “Pico...is laying down tracks we’ve never seen from a mako before. He seems to be following the Gulf Stream.”

Where is it going? Researchers haven’t offered any theories yet.

The mako’s tag last pinged Saturday afternoon off the coast of Virginia. Pings happen when a shark briefly surfaces, allowing a signal to be sent to a satellite.

Pico is not yet fully grown, at 7.5 feet. Makos will get up to 14 feet long on average, and are the world’s fastest shark, says SharkInsider.com. Pico has confirmed that ability by traveling as much as 156 miles in 72 hours, says OCEARCH.

Makos are also prone to jumping out of the water, as high as 9 meters (29 feet), says SharksWorld.com.

“Scientists still aren’t sure why they do this, but it’s theorized that they are searching for prey over the water surface,” says SharkInsider.com.



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Mark Price: 704-358-5245, @markprice_obs
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