A massive great white shark originally tagged near Nova Scotia appears to be leading researchers to an undiscovered spawning ground off the coast of Florida, where it was last spotted on GPS.
A tracker attached to the 942-kilogram (2,076-pound) shark — dubbed Unama’ki — pinged in the Florida Keys on Oct. 26, five weeks after it was last seen near Cape Breton. The shark appears to have travelled more than 4,000 kilometres to reach its current location.
At 4.7 metres (15 feet and five inches) long, it’s among the largest of its kind ever tagged along the Atlantic coast, Florida station WSOC-TV reports.
Researchers first tagged the shark near Cape Breton on Sept. 20 for Ocearch, a non-profit that tracks migratory patterns among marine life. Ocearch works in collaboration with SeaWorld to follow several aquatic species, including sea turtles.
Unama’ki has travelled farther and faster than any other shark tagged on that September expedition, Ocearch says.
“Unama’ki has the potential to lead us to the site where she gives birth and expose a new white shark nursery,” Ocearch says on its website.
Researchers tweeted that the shark was “really on the move” southward on Oct. 1 and that it was “in a hurry to make moves south” on Oct. 8.
Ocearch’s live tracker shows Unama’ki is in the same waters as Helena, a smaller, female great white shark.
The name Unama’ki comes from the Mi’kmaq word for Cape Breton, which means “Land of Fog.”
Florida’s Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission says shark activity typically peaks in the state from April to October.
However, that doesn’t mean Florida’s beaches are overrun with human-eating sharks.
“Humans are 30 times more likely to be struck by lightning in Florida than to be bitten by a shark,” the commission says.