Discover the Largest Great White Shark Ever Found Off Mississippi Waters

A great white shark's dorsal fin breaks the surface of the water.

Written by Stephanie Heath

Published: December 5, 2023

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Key Points 

  • Great white sharks are massive, averaging lengths between 18-26 feet and weighing up to 4,939 pounds. 
  • Great whites inhabit the Mississippi Gulf Coast but not the Mississippi River.
  • Great hammerheads also live in the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

The great white shark is one of the most well-known and most feared sharks in the ocean. Thanks to movies like Jaws, people think of these sharks as deadly man-eating machines. Many people fear encountering these giants when swimming in the ocean. Just how big do these giants get? Today, we will discuss the largest great white found off Mississippi waters, as well as other large sharks, and just how common it is to see a great white in Mississippi.

Great White Basics 

Great white sharks are the ocean's apex predators.

Great white sharks are among the largest species of sharks.


These sharks prefer temperate, subtropical seas and are widely distributed across the world. They are most common in South Africa, Australia, California, and the northeast of the United States. Their swimming location depends on the region and the prey they are hunting in that area. For example, they occasionally dwell closer to shore to catch certain prey. Their large torpedo-shaped bodies and mouths full of 300 serrated teeth are very recognizable. This giant is hard to miss, averaging lengths between 18-26 feet and weighing up to 4,938 pounds.

Where Can Great Whites Be Found in Mississippi? 

It may be surprising to imagine great whites in Mississippi. After all, Mississippi is not one of the primary locations discussed above. However, great whites can live in alternate locations as well. Two main bodies of water where people can find sharks in Mississippi are the Mississippi River and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. While sharks have been found in the Mississippi River, they have not been great whites. The bull shark is the species that can leave ocean waters and inhabit the Mississippi River.

Although great whites cannot be found in the Mississippi River, they can be found in the Mississippi Gulf Coast. People often find them off the coasts of other states, such as Florida, Louisiana, or even Georgia. However, you can also find great whites off the coast of Mississippi waters.  

The Largest Great White Ever Found Off Mississippi Waters 

Welcome to Mississippi Gulf Coast sign on sandy beach in Gulfport

The Gulf of Mexico is home to 24 known species of sharks.

©CrackerClips Stock Media/

According to data collected by OCEARCH, a marine research group, a great white that was tagged in Canada has resurfaced near the Mississippi River. According to the data collected from her tag, in 2020, this shark was swimming up the Gulf of Mexico, passing right by the mouth of the Mississippi River. This surprised many researchers because it proved that this shark traveled 3,120 miles, and she did so in just 103 days. 

People named this giant Unama’ki and she weighs a massive 2,076 pounds. This 15-foot 5-inch shark has continued to move and continued on to Louisana’s waters after passing by the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Unama’ki is the largest great white found off Mississippi waters.

Other Large Sharks Off Mississippi Waters 

Great white sharks are not the only big sharks lurking in the Gulf of Mexico, right off of Mississippi’s coast. According to OCEARCH, at least two other large sharks have been tagged right off the Mississippi Coast. While they may not compare to Unama’ki’s massive size, they are still large creatures you wouldn’t want to come face to face with. One of them is a juvenile great hammerhead named Sali. He was tagged by the Marine Fisheries Ecology Program at Mississippi State University. Sali is 7.75 feet long in his juvenile state. Great hammerheads can reach up to 20 feet in length, so this shark is expected to grow even larger. 

Additionally, another great hammerhead was tagged off the coast of Mississippi as well. This shark is another male and is considered a sub-adult. Named Lil’Smack, this shark comes in at 8.41 feet long. Tagged by the same group as Sali, both of these sharks will help provide useful information to researchers about the great hammerheads’ movements, migrations, and habitat. This will prove to be very useful as researchers are doing everything they can to protect this iconic species. 

What is The Largest Great White Ever Recorded? 

Great white sharks are the ocean's apex predators.

Deep Blue is one of the more popular female sharks.


While Unama’ki is quite large, her size pales in comparison to the largest great white ever recorded. People believe that she was first spotted in the 1990s, but there is no photographic evidence of this claim. 2013 is when she was first captured on video, and since that capture, researchers have noticed that she returns to Guadalupe every two years to reproduce. This giant’s name is Deep Blue. This impressive shark is estimated to weigh 5,000 pounds and be 20-21 feet long. With that incredible size and mass, it is no wonder Deep Blue has such a fan base and even built-up mythology surrounding her. 

Are Shark Attacks in Mississippi Common? 

While shark attacks can happen anywhere in a shark’s habitat, there are places where they are more common. Mississippi is not known for a high number of shark attacks. According to the Shark Attack Data, there have only been three recorded shark attacks in Mississippi. Luckily for all Mississippi beach-goers, none of the locations in Mississippi make it onto the list of the most shark-infested waters in the world. However, it is always best to swim with caution and be aware that when you are in the ocean, you are entering the shark’s habitat. 

Summary of Large Sharks Found off Mississippi Waters

Shark TypeShark SizeShark Name
Great White2,076 pounds
15 feet 5 inches long
Great Hammerhead7.75 feet longSali
Great Hammerhead8.41 feet longLil’ Smack

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About the Author

Stephanie is a writer at A-Z Animals that primarily covers a variety of animals and unique destinations. Stephanie is a published author and has been writing for many years. With a Bachelor's Degree in English and Elementary Education, Stephanie is familiar with writing for a variety of ages and audience types. As a Virginia resident, Stephanie enjoys reading, writing, traveling, and snuggling up with her beagle named Pooch!

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