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Shark goes a long-distance for a mate

Expert explains fish's trip from Australia to South Africa
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A great white has the shark world in a frenzy after swimming halfway around the world to find a mate. 

While sharks are known to swim long distances, the experts are calling this one of the most significant discoveries in recent history.  Scientists tagged this female great white shark in South Africa and tracked it as it swam one 12,000 miles from South Africa, to Australia and back to South Africa.  The trip took 99 days.  Now, scientists say it proves a link between the two shark populations. 

Susan Casey, author of the new book 'The Devil's Teeth' joined MSNBC's Joe Scarborough on Monday to talk about the link and the significance of that shark's journey from Australia to Africa.

To read an excerpt of their conversation, continue to the text below. To watch the video, click on the "Launch" button to the right.

JOE SCARBOROUGH: Tell us, what is so significant about this scientific discovery? 

SUSAN CASEY, AUTHOR, "THE DEVIL'S TEETH":  Well, what is intriguing now is that technology is beginning to reveal some of the mysteries of the great white shark. 

As much as we think we know the animal, because it has such a profile in our collective consciousness, there are a lot of things that we actually don't know about them.  And they are very hard to study.  So, these tags are revealing a side of them and behaviors that scientists really had no idea about. 

SCARBOROUGH:  Well,  and, Susan, we look at these sharks as obviously being bloodthirsty killers.  And, yet, it certainly shows a remarkable level of intelligence, doesn't it? 

CASEY:  Absolutely.  The thing is, with these new discoveries, is, what else can this animal do?  What else don't we know about it?  And the scientists themselves will say, something as extraordinary as this just raises even more questions.  And now technology is enabling them to begin to find the answers.
SCARBOROUGH:  You know, at Devil's Teeth, obviously, you got an up-close up look at these great whites and the way they worked around an island off of the San Francisco coastline. 

Did you see any behavior while studying the sharks that would have led you to believe that they had this level of intelligence? 

CASEY:  Oh, yes.   When you see a great white shark in the wild, you are instantly are struck by the fact that they are master killers.  That's one part of them, but they are a very complicated animal.  And they definitely have a vibe of an apex predator who has been around as long as they have, which is, for white sharks, 11 million years in their current form.  So, they are supremely adaptive. 

And the sharks at the Farallon Islands (right off of San Francisco) regularly travel to Hawaii.  Some of them go down to Baja.  So, now it looks like these sharks are just roaming the planet in ways that we didn't know at depths, at great depths, and close to the surface.  And what they're doing out there is a wonderful mystery.

SCARBOROUGH:  Yes, a wonderful mystery, but the bottom line is, still, Susan, they are natural-born killers, right, almost a perfect killing machine for the water? 

CASEY:  Right.  If you had 11 million years to get it down, you would get it down, too.  They're great killers.  They're perfect predators.  But, at the same time, they are obviously really complicated animals with all kinds of things to teach us.