Mary Lee, the two-ton great white shark, is making a holiday pass at the Lowcountry, apparently to feast on streams of bait fish that have been moving offshore to the Gulf Stream.
The satellite tag on the 16-foot-long shark pinged repeatedly Thanksgiving Day as Mary Lee evidently circled about five miles off Hunting Island, across St. Helena Sound from Edisto Beach. She appeared to be feeding in the flow of the Broad River.
The huge “lion of the ocean” evidently came close to the Isle of Palms beach early in November and might have nosed into Charleston Harbor.
She traveled south as far as Florida, where trackers expected her to winter. But then she turned and began slipping back.
Surfers in Charleston largely stayed off the water Friday, but that had nothing to do with Mary Lee. The surf has been small and flat.
“It’s whatever. It’s a shark. They live in the ocean,” said Cat Rogerson of Ocean Surf Shop on Folly Beach.
Norman Godley, of the shop, tracks great whites on the website of Ocearch, the monitoring group that tagged Mary Lee off Cape Cod, Mass. He alerted other surfers when she arrived the first time, and staff have tracked her since, out of curiosity for an apex predator Rogerson described as cool.
“I just hope she doesn’t mistake one of the surfers for a seal in a wetsuit,” Godley kidded Friday.
He, too, is a surfer. When you’re out on a board, you know sharks are under you, he said. But you’re not prey in their food chain.
“You can’t stress out.”