Lydia the great white shark on course for Britain

Scientists are tracking Lydia's movements as she swims above the mid-Atlantic ridge, the ocean's halfway point

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The Independent Online

Lydia the great white shark is set to become the first of her species to be seen crossing from one side of the Atlantic Ocean to the other – heading in the direction of the UK.

The 4.4m-long female, which has been fitted with a satellite tag, is now swimming above the mid-Atlantic ridge, a rough boundary line between east and west, and is around 1, 600km (1, 000 miles) from the coast of Cornwall.

Lydia was first tagged off the coast of Jacksonville, Florida, in March 2013 as part of the Ocearch project. She has since travelled 30, 500km (19, 000 miles) and is currently around 4, 800km (3, 000 miles) from her starting point.

Dr Gregory Skomal, senior fisheries biologist with Massachusetts Marine Fisheries, told BBC News: "No white sharks have crossed from west to east or east to west.

"Although Lydia is closer to Europe than North America, she technically does not cross the Atlantic until she crosses the mid-Atlantic ridge, which she has yet to do."

Dr Skomal added: "She would be the first documented white shark to cross into the eastern Atlantic."

The Ocearch project aims to "generate previously unattainable data on the movement, biology and health of sharks to protect their future while enhancing public safety and education".

The scientists use a custom-built 34,000kg (75,000lb) capacity hydraulic platform to tag sharks. Operated from their research vessel the M/V Ocearch, it allows them to safely lift mature sharks from the water.

Ocearch is currently tracking around 70 sharks.