One of the biggest sharks ever caught in the north Atlantic was tagged by the nonprofit OCEARCH last week off Nova Scotia and is now being tracked by satellite.
The apex predator — named Unama’ki — was raised alive and kicking from the water on a platform and painstakingly measured at 15 feet and 5 inches long and 2,076 pounds.
Among the secrets OCEARCH hopes to uncover is where exactly the shark is headed along the East Coast and for what reasons... including her “feeding behavior.”
Unama’ki was fixed with a satellite-linked tag on Sept. 20 and now counts as the “second biggest” white shark ever caught in the northwest Atlantic by OCEARCH.
She has already begun showing up on tracking, and was off Rhode Island on Sept. 30. To follow Unama’ki, visit OCEARCH.org.
The biggest shark, 16-foot Mary Lee, was tagged in 2012 and has not turned up on satellite tracking since June 2017, according to OCEARCH. Her whereabouts remain a mystery, but Mary Lee spent much of her time off the mid Atlantic, including the Carolinas.
“It’s been known for quite some time that these animals can be this large,” OCEARCH spokesman John Kanaly told McClatchy news group.
“OCEARCH has tagged other larger sharks (bigger even than Mary Lee) in South Africa and Guadalupe Island, Mexico,” Kanaly said. “Some of those animals were around 4,000 pounds and one was about 18 ft long.”
Unama’ki was tagged in Cape Breton as part of Expedition Nova Scotia, a joint effort between with OCEARCH and SeaWorld, which are investigating white sharks from different perspectives.
OCEARCH is tracking shark migrations and trying to determine where they breed and where they nurse, among other things.
SeaWorld told McClatchy news group it sent a researcher to examine shark sexual maturity, “which can have important implications in the understanding of migration data, diet (and) social behavior.”
During the 15 minutes Unama’ki was raised on a platform, SeaWorld researcher Gisele Montano took fecal samples from the shark, among other tricky procedures.
OCEARCH began tagging sharks more than a decade ago and has already learned that white sharks in the North Atlantic are likely to migrate thousands of miles south to Florida and beyond in a matter of months. It also discovered the continental shelf waters off the Carolinas, Georgia and Florida is “a winter hot spot for large white sharks.”
“We will certainly watch to see if this pattern is repeated (with Unama’ki),” Kanaly told McClatchy.
“The cool thing though about tagging an animal in a new area such as Cape Breton, is that it has the potential to show us something completely new. So we will be watching for that too.”