Cape Cod, MA -- Great white sharks are the most feared, and among the most misunderstood, predators in the sea. Now researchers at Mote Marine Lab in Sarasota are helpingus all learn more about them.

Last week -- for the first time ever -- they helped catch, tag andrelease a great white shark in the North Atlantic.

"We may learn from this some great secrets about the life history of the great white shark," said Dr. Bob Hueter, senior scientist at Mote Marine Lab. "Where it goes to breed, where it goes to give birth."

The close encounter came Sept. 13 off the coast of Cape Cod in Massachusetts. Just before dusk, the crew aboard the OCEARCH vessel hooked a 15-foot, 2,500-pound female great white shark. They lured it onto acustom-made lift that can lift thousands of pounds out of the water.

Photo Gallery:OCEARCH catches great white shark

While on the lift, researchers took blood and tissue samples and tagged the shark with a motion sensor known as an accelerometer, which records every tail beat and tilt of its body, and a satellite transmitter that will track the shark in real-time anywhere in the world for five years.

"In order to protect an animal like the white shark, we really have to know its total range," said Hueter. "Not just when it's here off our coast, but other places that it goes. So this kind of work will show us where white sharks roam and where they need protection."

OCEARCH is a group made up of the world's top scientists and best fishermen whose goal it to study and protect sharks.

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