A 12-foot-long great white shark weighing more than 1,300 pounds has been pinged in the Gulf of Mexico less than 50 miles off the Florida coast.
The shark, which is being tracked by research group Ocearch, was about 70 miles south of St. George’s Island at around 11 a.m. on March 6.
For the past two years, the shark, dubbed Maple, has spent time off the east coast of the US, traveling between the Gulf of Mexico and the Gulf of St. Lawrence just west of the island of Newfoundland in Canada.
Her most recent arrival in the gulf roughly coincides with spring break, when thousands of students will be visiting various coastal destinations in the US and Florida.
Maple, pictured, was first tagged by a non-profit Ocearch in Nova Scotia in September 2021. She has since traveled nearly 10,000 miles
The great white shark had a wound on the left side of her body, believed to have been caused by another greater white shark
Great whites are powerful swimmers that can move at speeds of up to 35 miles per hour. Nevertheless, Maple’s proximity to Florida is not particularly uncommon.
“It’s not uncommon for white sharks to be 40 miles or closer to shore, it all depends on the region,” Paige Finney, a spokesperson for Ocearch, told DailyMail.com.
“Last April, Maple was in the same region and a little closer to the coast of St. George Island,” she added.
Maple was tagged in September 2021 by the ocean research group in Nova Scotia and named after the maple leaf, one of Canada’s national symbols.
Since then she has swum nearly 10,000 miles.
At the time she was tagged, she was a subadult and 3.5 meters tall and weighed approximately 1,264 pounds.
Finney said she might be taller than she was two years later. Female great whites are larger than males and tend to average 15 to 16 feet in length once fully grown.
When she was inspected in 2021, Maple had a wound on the left side of her body believed to have been inflicted by another bigger white shark.
Last April, Maple was recorded in the same region within the gulf, close to the coast of St. George Island
Maple’s appearance less than 50 miles off the Florida coast is not unheard of. She was close last year, too, but it coincides with spring break, when thousands of students across the country will be visiting coastal Florida towns
Springbreakers from all over the country have descended on Florida’s coastal towns and cities. Some are pictured near Fort Lauderdale beach on Saturday, March 4
Just a day after Maple appeared in the gulf, another nearly 10-foot white shark, followed by Ocearch, appeared off the other Florida coast.
The young shark Tancook, also initially tagged in Nova Scotia, dived about 70 miles from Jacksonville Beach.
Ocearch has been tagging sharks and other animals around the world for over a decade.
The process involves lifting the shark out of the water by attaching a small satellite antenna to its dorsal fin.
While the organization has helped unravel mysteries surrounding the elusive white shark, it has also generated a lot of controversy.
The non-profit organization is led by Chris Fischer and at the heart of its operation is a 120-foot shark research vessel that navigates the seas, Reader’s Digest in Canada reported in 2021.
According to the publication, many researchers insert tags under a shark’s skin with a harpoon while it is swimming or while it is restrained along the side of a boat.
Ocearch lures sharks onto his ship and onto a control deck that can be lifted via a hydraulic lift so the sharks can be worked on.
The researchers can then take samples of blood, muscles and even parasites.
A 2,137-pound 15-foot great white is seen on the operating deck of Oceanarch’s research vessel
Ocearch lures sharks on a 120-foot vessel equipped with a hydraulic lift that lifts the shark out of the water
In 2016, Oceanarch came across a research team led by the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries that was studying the behavior of great whites along the state’s beaches, according to the Scientific American.
When Oceanarch arrived later, the two groups of researchers clashed.
“It’s extremely blatant,” biologist Greg Skomal, who led the state study, told the publication.
“All we’ve done is respectfully ask them to wait. I don’t know why they can’t.’