Massive 2,000-Pound Great White Unama'ki Tracked Off the Florida Coast

A 2,000-pound great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) was tracked a short distance from Florida's northwest coast.

According to Northwest Florida News, a shark called Unama'ki pinged some 60 miles from Destin, Florida, on February 15, 2020. Unama'ki is a large female and conservationists attempting to track her suspect she is heading into warmer waters near the coast to give birth.

Her name comes from the language of the indigenous Mi'kmaq people of Nova Scotia, who call Cape Breton "Unama'ki," meaning "land of the fog."

At 15 feet 5 inches and 2,076 pounds, Unama'ki is one of the largest sharks tagged by the ocean research non-profit OCEARCH, an organization monitoring great white shark populations in the North Atlantic to improve conservation efforts and protection for these and other marine species.

Researchers tagged Unama'ki back on September 20, 2019, near Scaterie Island in Nova Scotia, Canada. She swiftly made her way down the east coast, making light work of the 2,000 or so mile journey, and landed in the Gulf of Mexico in time for Halloween.

This was the first time OCEARCH had tracked a white shark into the Gulf of Mexico in October. It leads them to believe great whites head to warmer waters earlier than previously thought.

Unama'ki surprised conservationists again earlier this month when her shark tracker pinged in the Gulf's northeast, near Tallahassee.

"Look where Unama'ki is! We don't usually get white shark pings this far northeast in the Gulf of Mexico," said OCEARCH in a statement posted on Facebook. "Unama'ki is the biggest white shark currently pinging on the Tracker."

A great white shark
A great white shark pictured off the coast of Guadalupe Island on September 15, 2016. OCEARCH's shark tracker shows 2,000-pound Unama’ki is just 60 miles or so close to the Florida coast. Dave J Hogan/Getty

Unama'ki may be the largest great white tracked, but since her arrival in October, she has been joined by several other white sharks—including Brunswick, a 430-pound male, Helena, a 1,300-pound female, and Nova, a 1,200-pound male.

Other sharks tagged by OCEARCH have been spotted gathering around the Carolinas, a popular hangout for great whites in the winter months.

The hope is that Unama'ki will give birth and, in the process, lead researchers to the site of a new shark nursery. OCEARCH's tracking has already led to the discovery of a nursery off the Long Island coast.

Unama'ki is one of the more active of the 11 sharks tagged by OCEARCH in Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, regularly pinging when she breaks the surface of the water. This allows scientists to track her location.

The Nova Scotia sharks are believed to be one of two sub-populations of great whites in the North Atlantic. The other is thought to spend their summers and early fall in Cape Cod, Massachusetts. However, more research is needed to confirm this theory.