This Huge Great White Shark Just Did a Self Portrait With Its Tracking Tag

A 1,400 pound, 13-foot great white shark that has been cruising around the Florida coast has inadvertently drawn a picture of himself using his tracking path.

Breton is one of the sharks that is tagged and tracked by research non-profit OCEARCH. He was the first shark tagged during OCEARCH's Expedition Nova Scotia 2020, and was named after Cape Breton, where he was found and tagged. Since then, Breton has been tracked swimming up and down the U.S. East Coast, and with his path, he has somehow drawn a picture that resembles a shark.

Great whites are found in sub-arctic waters across the globe, most commonly around the coastlines of the United States, South Africa, Japan, Australia and Chile.

Off the U.S. East Coast, great whites migrate from New England down to Florida, often being sighted near Massachusetts and New Jersey during summer and in the waters off Florida in winter. There is a broader distribution along the coast during autumn and spring.

Breton has followed this migration pattern for the most part, spending late summer last year in the Canadian Gulf of St Lawrence before swimming down to Florida around Christmas. While he did take off northwards again in the spring, he is back around the Florida coast, and is currently not far off shore, just off Port St. Lucie as of June 6.

Despite coming close to shore, great whites pose a very low risk to humans. You are more likely to be killed by fireworks, falling over or even a lightning strike than in a shark attack. While Florida experiences the highest rates of shark attacks, with a five-year average of 25 unprovoked bites per year, the fatality rate for is low, with no deaths recorded in the last decade.

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In this stock image a great white shark breaches in an attack on a seal off the coast of South Africa. iStock / Getty Images Plus

OCEARCH tags and tracks sharks and other marine animals such as seals, sea turtles and dolphins to study factors ranging from their reproductive cycles and diet to inorganic and organic contaminant loads (e.g. plastics) and presence of parasites.

Sharks like Breton are caught with handlines, and are guided by hand onto a lift on the research boat, where they are restrained and studied. The shark is unhurt and stress minimized thanks to hoses that enable a continuous flow of seawater over their gills, which sharks require to absorb oxygen from the water.

The science team then tags the shark, records morphometrics like weight and length, and takes samples of blood and tissue. The data helps conservation groups protect these marine giants from extinction.

Great white sharks are currently listed as an endangered species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature red list, because of the high numbers that are caught by humans. Their jaws and teeth are valuable, as are entire specimens for display by trophy collectors. Their skin is used for leather and their fins are used for shark-fin soup, often resulting in the shark being thrown back into the ocean without a fin.

These problems are exacerbated by the fact that great whites, like most sharks, are slow-growing and produce very few young, meaning that their populations struggle to recover once numbers drop.