15-Foot-Long Great White Shark Unama'ki Tracked Near Bermuda on Journey Into the Open Ocean

A 15-foot-long great white shark dubbed "Unama'ki" is approaching Bermuda as it makes its way into the open ocean.

The roughly 2,000-pound adult female is being monitored by marine research non-profit OCEARCH who tagged it with a tracking device in September.

The trackers "ping" when the dorsal fin located on the back of a tagged shark breaks the surface of the water, sending out a signal to a satellite orbiting above the Earth. This allows OCEARCH researchers to pinpoint the animal's location.

Combining several of these pings over a period of time enables OCEARCH to map out the movements of a given shark, providing valuable insights into their behavior.

On April 29, Unama'ki pinged in the waters just off north of Bermuda, a British island territory in the North Atlantic, located around 650 miles east-southeast of North Carolina.

At the beginning of this month, the shark turned away from the East Coast, and started making its way deeper into the Atlantic in what researchers call a "pelagic journey," one into the open ocean.

Big @UnamakiShark is approaching Bermuda! In the past we’ve seen @MaryLeeShark and @RockStarLydia buzz past the island. What else do all 3 of these sharks have in common???

Answer: They are all mature females. pic.twitter.com/t731j7xSOD

— OCEARCH (@OCEARCH) April 28, 2020

This is not the first time that OCEARCH has observed such a journey being taken by the great whites it is tracking, but the non-profit says that it could reveal some intriguing information.

"This is not necessarily a surprising observation because we have seen it before from several other mature female white sharks. It is interesting though because it is primarily a journey we see large mature females make," OCEARCH Founding Chairman and Expedition Leader Chris Fischer told Newsweek.

"One of our hypotheses for this is that they are gestating. A previous shark we tracked making one of these journeys into the open ocean, named Mary Lee, returned to shore near Long Island, which is a white shark nursery. If Unama'ki makes a long journey out in the open ocean, she could lead us to a new nursery when she returns to the coast if she is gestating. We will be watching her closely," he said.

great white shark, Unama’ki
The great white shark Unama’ki on the OCEARCH research vessel. OCEARCH/R. Snow

Unama'ki was first tagged by OCEARCH in the waters off Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada. Since then, the shark has advanced more than 5,700 miles, traveling all the way down the North American coast and into the Gulf of Mexico before turning back and making its way into the open ocean.

"One very interesting move Unama'ki made was traveling west of the Mississippi River. This is not something we often track white sharks doing. She also spent a long time in the Gulf of Mexico compared to other sharks we've tracked," Fischer said.

The shark's name, which means "land of the fog," is the what the indigenous Mi'kmaq people of Nova Scotia call Cape Breton, where the animal was tagged.