Great White Shark Takes 12,000-Mile Trip

A great white shark has astounded scientists by swimming from South Africa to Australia and back in a journey that sheds new light on the murky world of the ocean's most feared predator.

The epic voyage of the tagged female shark -- named Nicole after Australian actress Nicole Kidman -- was described in yesterday's issue of the journal Science.

In the first transoceanic and longest voyage ever recorded trip by a shark, Nicole swam 12,400 miles in just under nine months -- and experts reckon she did it for love.

"We suspect that she went for reproductive reasons," said Ramon Bonfil of the Bronx Zoo-based Wildlife Conservation Society.

Nicole's tag recorded data on time, temperature, water depth and light levels -- but not whether she mated. Bonfil said her path was remarkably straight: A couple of hundred miles south of South Africa's coastline toward Antarctica, she arced east and northeast to Australia.

Along with California, South Africa and Australia are the great white shark capitals of the world.

Nicole's long swim suggests the South African and Australian populations have far more interaction than previously thought and may not be entirely separate groups, and may be more vulnerable than expected to deep sea fishing.

-- From News Services