A 15 and a half foot (4.7 meters) long, 2,000 pound (907 kilogram) great white shark is confirmed to be moving around the East Coast of the United States. A group that has been tracking the female shark noted her position at Myrtle Beach in South Carolina two weeks ago, and has now made her way to the Florida Keys.
The nonprofit marine life research organization, OCEARCH, tagged the great white close to Nova Scotia last month. The shark is being called Unama’ki, a phrase from the indigenous population of Nova Scotia meaning “land of the fog”. This is the second largest great white that the organization has tagged in the northwest Atlantic.
OCEARCH says, “As a big mature female, Unama’ki has the potential to lead us to the site where she gives birth and exposes a new white shark nursery”.
The Florida coast is no stranger to the presence of sharks. The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) says that the sharks are an important part of keeping a balanced ecosystem.
“30 times more likely to be struck by lightning”
Shark activity in Florida’s coastal waters is usually the most common between April and October. The FWC advises that people should stay alert and be cautious when they’re in the water.
The FWC says that a human is “30 times more likely to be struck by lightning in Florida than to be bitten by a shark”, although Florida State University Emergency Management estimates around 10 deaths and 40 injuries from lightning strikes each year, and according to the state’s International Shark File, there were 66 bites on record last year, down from 88 incidents in 2017. But these figures are a mere fraction in comparison to the 100 million shark deaths that occur annually thanks to fisheries.
There were also reports of a surfer jumping directly onto a shark this weekend at the shark bite capital of the world, New Smyrna Beach. The man in his late 20s collided with an unidentified shark and suffered a few small wounds which were treated on-site.