See the 21-Foot Shark That May Be the Largest Great White Shark on Record

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Written by Kirstin Harrington

Updated: November 10, 2023

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Great White Shark attack swimmer
© Willyam Bradberry/Shutterstock.com

Key Points:

  • Watch video footage of a 21-foot shark that just might be the largest great white shark ever recorded.
  • Great white sharks were thought to live 20-30 years, but now scientists think their lifespans are much longer — up to 70 years.
  • Deep Blue, a tagged female shark, is considered the world’s largest female shark at 20 feet long and over 5,500 pounds.

Great white sharks are one of the planet’s apex predators. These creatures are the world’s biggest predatory fish, with a reputation for power and speed. Great white sharks grow to be around 15 feet long on average. However, there are some of these beasts that can grow much larger.  

Deep Blue is one of these sharks; she is the world’s largest female great white shark. She’s around 20 feet long and weighs more than 5,500 pounds. Most sharks tend to live between 20 and 30 years. Great whites, however, can live up to 70 years and Deep Blue is in her 50s! 

Photographer Mark Mohler shot an underwater film of marine researcher Andrew Gray and colleague photographer Kimberly Jeffries swimming mere feet from Deep Blue, cameras in hand, capturing rare images of the shark.

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The Biggest Great White Ever Observed

Divers give thanks to a tag this shark was implanted with. Mark Mohler and Kimberly Jeffries were able to identify her as Deep Blue, and marine specialists could recognize the distinctive marks on her body. 

Deep Blue, according to experts, is the biggest great white ever observed and has survived for more than five decades despite pollutants, hunting, and angling, all of which shorten the lifespan of great whites. 

great white shark

Factors including pollutants, hunting, and angling shorten the lifespans of great whites. 

©Alexius Sutandio/Shutterstock.com

Deep Blue was swimming about the boat as Mauricio Hoyos Padilla, a marine scientist and shark motion specialist was doing research with his crew. Michael Maier, a videographer and scuba diver, documented the historic meeting from a comfortable distance.

“On the second day, I was in the water, and we had to wait,” says Maier, “But all of a sudden, there she came. Deep Blue was very calm and just doing circles around us. That’s when we realized how big she was.”

Deep Blue swam about the boat’s cage for a bit before disappearing into the depths. Padilla wound up getting a close encounter with the ocean’s queen, high-fiving her like an old friend. As she swims in circles around the diving cage, there’s something elegant and calm about her. 

“I was thinking, ‘what in the world is this?’ Because it was way bigger than any shark I’d expect,” Gray commented about his experience. The crew speculated that the shark was pregnant based on the sight of her stomach, yet her larger stomach might simply be due to her incredible size.

Great whites are the world’s largest predatory fish.

©Martin Prochazkacz/Shutterstock.com

Experts claim that, despite their reputation as fearsome sharks, Deep Blue does not have an aggressive nature. She was thrown into the limelight in early 2019 when she was discovered feasting on a whale corpse by a National Geographic documentary team off the coast of Hawaii.

The footage, seen on the YouTube Channel “Truly,” shows just how enormous this apex predator is compared to the humans swimming beside her. Female great white sharks are typically bigger than males and prefer to live alone. While pregnant, they dwell at great depths and approach the coasts to give birth. 

How Long Do Sharks Live?

Scientists are finding that great white sharks have longer lifespans than they previously thought — and some of these fearsome predators are living to a ripe old age of 70 or more. Previously believed to have a lifespan of 20-30 years, great white sharks are now thought to live longer and also take longer to mature, and that’s not a good thing. Before they are mature enough to reproduce, fishermen have been hunting and killing them, which has led to great whites receiving the “vulnerable” conservation status.

Great white sharks are the ocean's apex predators.

Great white sharks typically live 20-30 years, but some have been known to live into their seventies.

©iStock.com/ShaneMyersPhoto


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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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