2 Massive Great White Sharks Weighing As Much As a Polar Bear Each Found Swimming Off the Coast of Canada

Under the waves circle two great white sharks. Illustration
© solarseven/Shutterstock.com

Written by Kirstin Harrington

Updated: November 13, 2023

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Key Points

  • Ocearch is a non-profit organization that tracks great white sharks, which have a significant online following and are named after various inspirations.
  • A group of tagged great white sharks, including one named Breton and another named Ironbound, are being monitored off the coasts of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island.
  • Sharks are tracked via a satellite detection system when their dorsal fin tags stay above water for about 90 seconds, revealing their latest location.
  • Great white sharks undertake extensive migrations, traveling up to 2,500 miles to move between feeding grounds in response to seasonal food availability.
  • While Ocearch claims that their tagging method does not harm sharks or affect their survival, some experts argue that it can cause serious damage to fins and induce potentially fatal stress.

Ocearch is a shark tracker and non-profit organization that professionals and shark-enthusiasts around the world use to keep an eye on certain sharks. All of the massive great white sharks with tags have names and quite a popular following online. 

Around a dozen sharks are currently regularly pinging off the coastlines of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, and Prince Edward Island, according to the Ocearch Shark Tracker website. Two of these huge animals have pinged their location near Prince Edward Island in Canada in summer of 2023. 

Let’s introduce you to the main characters of this story. First we have a shark named Breton. Breton received his name after the beautiful people of Cape Breton, where the animal was tagged. 

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Cape Breton Highlands National Park

Cape Breton is a popular tourist attraction location and famous for migrating sharks.

©iStock.com/lightphoto

He was the first shark to be tagged as part of OCEARCH’s Expedition Nova Scotia in 2020. The adult male shark measures approximately 13 feet long and weighs roughly 1,437 pounds. Another massive great white shark Ocearch keeps track of that has appeared around Prince Edward Island around the same time is called Ironbound

He is a great white shark that measures 12 feet, four inches in length, and he is quite evasive. The male shark, which weighs over half a ton, was first tagged in Nova Scotia in autumn of 2019. 

A ping happens when the shark’s dorsal fin’s location tag stays above water for roughly 90 seconds. When this happens, a satellite detects it and updates the shark’s latest location. 

How Far Do Sharks Travel?

Great white shark, Carcharodon carcharias

Great whites can weigh up to 5,000 pounds!

©Martin Prochazkacz/Shutterstock.com

Enormous great white sharks travel huge distances every year. They go from their feeding sites to different feeding grounds that are located far away. In the wide open ocean, where the food they seek is in little supply, they can go as far as 2,500 miles. 

Sharks would have to search extensively in the open ocean to find nourishment if they were scavengers. They move from one feeding area to another so that they can benefit from the seasonal richness, which is one reason for their migration.

Is Tracking Sharks Harmful to the Animal?

According to Ocearch, there is no proof that this tagging technique, which has been employed on sharks and other species for more than 50 years, affects the animals’ behavior or chances of survival after being released. However, some professionals are in disagreement. 

The animal may wind up being permanently maimed by the tag. Many sharks with tags swimming about have fins that are seriously damaged. Furthermore, the stress it causes puts the animals at serious risk. 

Despite their intimidating exterior, sharks are extremely vulnerable to stress-related mortality.


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About the Author

Kirstin is a writer at A-Z Animals primarily covering animals, news topics, fun places, and helpful tips. Kirstin has been writing on a variety of topics for over five years. She has her real estate license, along with an associates degree in another field. A resident of Minnesota, Kirstin treats her two cats (Spook and Finlay) like the children they are. She never misses an opportunity to explore a thrift store with a coffee in hand, especially if it’s a cold autumn day!

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