- The shark, named Scot, was tagged by OCEARCH researchers on September 8, 2021, off of West Ironbound Island, Nova Scotia.
- This global non-profit organization tags and tracks various species of sharks worldwide but focuses mainly on tracking white sharks along the Atlantic coast of the United States and Canada.
- His last ping was nearly a month ago when he was tracked in the open water of the Gulf of Mexico. But now, he is just a few miles away from Key Largo.
A gigantic great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) measuring over 12 feet long and weighing around 1,650 pounds just showed up in southern Florida. The shark was located near Key Largo just before 11:00 am on April 17.
The shark’s name is Scot. While sharks typically don’t have names, those tracked by OCEARCH do. This global non-profit organization tags and tracks various species of sharks worldwide but focuses mainly on tracking white sharks along the Atlantic coast of the United States and Canada.
Scot was tagged by OCEARCH researchers on September 8, 2021, off of West Ironbound Island, Nova Scotia. The shark was named “Scot” after the people of Nova Scotia.
Scot is an adult male great white and is one of the largest sharks currently tracked by OCEARCH. Unlike some of the other sharks that show up regularly in the organization’s tracking system, Scot tends to be more elusive.
Every shark tagged by OCEARCH is fitted with a transmitter on its dorsal fin. The transmitter sends a ping to OCEARCH each time the shark’s fin breaks the water’s surface. The shark must remain at the surface for 90 seconds for the transmitter to send sufficient data to allow researchers to pinpoint the shark’s location. If the shark dives back to the depths before the 90-second mark, a Z-ping is recorded. This tells OCEARCH that the shark surfaced, but there is not enough data for geolocation.
Some sharks show up regularly on OCEARCH’s tracker, allowing scientists to track their movements and observe behavior patterns. Others like Scot do not appear on the tracker nearly as often. They seem content to remain below the water’s surface, meaning their location is often unknown.
But, while Scot doesn’t show up often, he showed up on April 17. His last ping was nearly a month ago when he was tracked in the open water of the Gulf of Mexico. But now, he is just a few miles away from Key Largo.
Shark Attacks in Florida
With sunny skies and forecasted high temperatures above 80°F all week, Key Largo beaches will surely be busy this week. Should beachgoers worry that such a mammoth-sized great white shark is patrolling the waters?
Florida is the shark bite capital of the world, after all. New Smyrna Beach in Volusia County has been the site of more shark attacks than any other beach in the world.
While New Smyrna Beach is over 270 miles from Key Largo, the cautionary tales of Floridian shark encounters can’t be dismissed. This is especially true when a gargantuan great white shark is known to be in the area.
Even with Florida’s world-leading numbers of shark bites, the odds of an attack are still low. But it obviously can and does happen. There are steps you can take to stay safe during your time at the beach.
Swimming in groups significantly reduces the likelihood of a shark encounter. Also, avoid any areas where people are fishing. Their lures or bait may bring sharks into the area.
Don’t wear shiny swimsuits or clothing. When the sun reflects off the shiny material, a shark may mistake the reflection for the fins of a fish.
Most importantly, pay attention to local reports as well as your surroundings. You don’t need to be afraid, but you absolutely need to be aware. We step into the shark’s world whenever we set foot in the ocean. These sharks, particularly great white sharks, are the ocean’s apex predators. It would be foolish to be flippant about such a predator. It would be doubly foolish to be dismissive when a giant great white is documented in the area.
OCEARCH’s research has given the world access to the world of great white sharks as never before. This invaluable research continues in the newest OCEARCH expedition, which just launched this week.
Expedition Northbound, OCEARCH’s forty-fifth expedition, runs through May 4. The expedition aims to learn more about great white sharks and their migration northward as the weather warms. OCEARCH has tagged 88 sharks and continues to work toward its goal of 100 sharks sampled, tagged, and released along the Atlantic coast.
White sharks are critical to the ocean’s ecosystem. When the population of an apex predator diminishes, the rest of the ecosystem is imperiled. These sharks are, as OCEARCH says, the balance-keepers of the ocean.
The photo featured at the top of this post is © Alessandro De Maddalena/Shutterstock.com
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