Lake Norman & Mooresville

For a change of pace, keep track of Mary Lee

OCEARCH, a nonprofit that has tagged dozens of sharks, put a tracker on Mary Lee in 2012 that “pings” each time her dorsal fin surfaces, allowing the group to record the location online.
OCEARCH, a nonprofit that has tagged dozens of sharks, put a tracker on Mary Lee in 2012 that “pings” each time her dorsal fin surfaces, allowing the group to record the location online. OCEARCH

Mary Lee, a great white shark tagged with a GPS tracking device, has become a favorite of the social media set.

All it took was a Twitter Account, (@MaryLeeShark) and an anonymous spokesman to field responses to questions like this: “Mary Lee, I know it’s not polite, but how old are you?”

Mary Lee’s answer, “Fifty, give or take a few decades.” Another tweet: “I’m following @MaryLeeShark, and hope she doesn’t follow me back.”

Since being tagged off Cape Cod in September 2012, Mary Lee has traveled more than 20,000 miles up and down the Atlantic Coast. One of her favorite places to visit is the Lowcountry of South Carolina, where she spent time in St. Helena Sound in 2013 and was spotted off Charleston’s coast again in January 2014.

Mary Lee also frequents the coast of New England, which has a history of apex shark sightings. She was tracked while cruising the Maryland/Virginia coastline near Chincoteague Bay.

Mary Lee’s tracker showed her surfacing May 31 just off the coast of Avalon, N.J., according to

The 3,500-pound shark was thought to have been pregnant and could be back to give birth. Marie Lavine, the executive director of the Shark Research Institute in Princeton, said previously there is a “nursery area” in Garden State waters where many white sharks come to give birth.

But she could just be following her food on the way back to where she was tagged, other experts have said, according to the report.

Where the 16-footer Mary Lee will go next is anybody’s guess, but now that she has 67,000 followers on Twitter, she will not go unnoticed.

Great white sharks can grow to longer than 20 feet long and a weigh more than 7,000 pounds. They travel the seven seas and achieve speeds of 35 mph when chasing prey. Their ancestry dates back 400 million years, and they can live 60 years or more. Their favorite foods are seals and sea lions, but any sea creature or bird is fair game. While humans are not a preferred prey, a large number of attacks are credited to them.

You can track Mary Lee and other apex sharks at:

Hot spot of the week

Spotted bass are schooling offshore on points and around brush in water to 25 feet. Shaky heads, bucktails and spoons are the baits of choice when fish are deep. White perch are being caught on small minnows, and Sabiki rigs along the edges of river and creek channels. Cat fishing is good to very good during the day. Sunfish are hitting worms on suspended floats along the shoreline.

Upcoming events

Free safe boating class: “How to Navigate Lake Norman Day or Night” will be held 6:30 p.m. June 10 at The Peninsula Yacht Club, 18501 Harbor Light Blvd., Cornelius. Becky Johnson and I will cover “Understanding LKN’s Channel Marker and Buoy System,” “How to Avoid Shallow Water,” “Ten Most Dangerous Spots” and “Interpreting Lake Maps.” For information, call Ashley at 704-892-7575.

Free fishing seminar: “Frequently Asked Questions about Lake Norman Fishing.” Jake Bussolini and I will answer your fishing questions at 6:30 p.m. June 17 at Gander Mountain, Interstate 77 Exit 36, in Mooresville. The session will be of great interest to those new to lake fishing and interested in catching bass, cats, crappie, perch and stripers. Bring your questions. For information, call 704-658-0822.


The surface water temperature varies by location, but is mainly in the 80s in open waters not affected by power generation. The lake level is about 2.3 feet below full pond on Lake Norman and 3.9 feet below on Mountain Island Lake.

Gus Gustafson is a freelance writer and a professional fishing guide on Lake Norman. Have a story idea for Gus? Email him at