Shark Week 2015 has barely begun, but I'm already calling its break-out star: Joan of Shark is a female great white, who researchers estimate is the largest they've ever observed. She's definitely the one with the coolest nickname, that's for sure. Joan, who makes her home off the Western coast of Australia, gets her own starring role on the Discovery Channel's annual celebration this year. On Tuesday, July 7, Shark Week will premiere Bride of Jaws , a documentary special about this powerful female and the scientists tracking her migratory pattern.
You've got to love a lady who's in charge, and Joan of Shark is definitely the queen of her kingdom. Who would dare mess with a shark of literal recordbreaking size? (And who says she's married to Jaws, huh? Can't a girl-shark stay single and stand on her own fins if she wants?) The public first became aware of Joan in April 2014, when she got a little too close to the Australian beaches for sunbathers' comfort. News outlets breathlessly reported the sighting, because — as Shark Week has proven — humans are both terrified of and obsessed with these fish. Of the entire Shark Week 2015 schedule, I'm most excited to get to know Joan and to see her in action. To fully prepare for her big debut, here are 6 facts you need to know about the Bride of Jaws.
1. She's Really, Really Big
At over 16 feet long and 1.8 tons , Joan is officially no joke. (That's a scientific term.) She's the largest great white shark scientists have been able to tag, so if there's a badder boss than her, they don't know about it yet.
2. She's In The Prime Of Her Life
Experts estimated in 2014 that Joan was about 30 years old. Great whites reach maturity at 15 and live until approximately 70, so she's still got a lot of running the world to do.
3. She Goes Into A Trance When She's Upside Down
Tonic immobility is a condition where some sharks become unresponsive and docile when they're upside down. It's this phenomena that made it possible for Joan to be tracked in the first place. According to Mark Kleeman from the Department of Fisheries in Western Australia, she woke up and immediately swam away as soon as she was righted. Pretty nifty trick.
4. She's Teaching Scientists About The Movement Of Great Whites
The tracker that scientists placed in Joan last year will be good for about a full decade of data. Her Shark Week special features shark experts following the great white's 4,000 mile migratory pattern, which is a pretty serious commute.
5. She Loves To Eat...
Scientists believe that it was the smell of a beached humpback whale that drew Joan closer to the coast of Australia last April. In this preview clip of Bride of Jaws, it's a bucket of chum (yum!) that attracts our girl.
6. ...But Not Humans
While great whites have been known to attack humans, they don't seem to be interested in eating them. (Still, that's little consolation for Batman right now.)
Hope you enjoyed getting to know Joan! Don't forget to tune into her documentary special and have the best Shark Week ever!
Images: Discovery Channel; Giphy (5)