Great White Shark Unama'ki Is Heading Even Further Into the Open Ocean, Satellite Tracker Reveals

A 2,000-pound adult great white shark named Unama'ki is moving further out into the open ocean from U.S. coastal waters, data scientists say.

Experts are speculating the movement of the predator could end up similar to mature females such as Lydia—a shark recorded crossing the Atlantic, diving deep and swimming tens of thousands of kilometers after being tagged back in 2013.

Unama'ki is one of the many sharks being tracked by data experts from the U.S marine organization OCEARCH, which previously suggested she could be pregnant.

"As white shark Unama'ki starts moving farther off the coast, we're starting to wonder if her track will look like ones we've seen from other large mature females such as Lydia," OCEARCH wrote on social media this week, publishing an image that showed the vast zig-zag of exploration obtained via ping's from Lydia's tracking device.

"Wow look at this! Unama'ki is really moving out into the open ocean. Could this be the beginning of a track like @RockStarLydia laid down?" the researchers tweeted.

Wow look at this! @UnamakiShark is really moving out into the open ocean. Could this be the beginning of a track like @RockStarLydia laid down? pic.twitter.com/3Np3YonuVy

— OCEARCH (@OCEARCH) April 27, 2020

Earlier this month, the team revealed the 15-foot, 5-inch shark had veered off into the open ocean and speculated she could be moving off the coast to gestate. OCEARCH says tracking data could lead researchers to a great white shark nursery. "We've only really tracked large females making these pelagic journeys," it tweeted on April 21.

Very interesting! Take a look at @UnamakiShark’s track. She is veering off into the open ocean. Could she be going out there to gestate? We’ve only really tracked large females making these pelagic journeys. We’ll be watching her closely. pic.twitter.com/GW6oxWebhD

— OCEARCH (@OCEARCH) April 21, 2020

Unama'ki was tagged on September 20 last year at Scaterie Island, Nova Scotia, and has traveled at least 5540 miles during the subsequent period, pings show.

"A pelagic journey is one out into the open ocean, far away from the coast," OCEARCH expedition leader Chris Fischer told Newsweek earlier this month.

"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," Fischer continued.

"A previous shark we tracked making one of these journeys into open ocean, 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."

According to OCEARCH, sharks are measured and sexed after being tagged. Samples are taken for analysis, including for tissue, blood, bacteria, sperm and parasites.

Scientists can then assess the sharks' reproductive conditions, reproductive cycle, diet, gestation periods, organic contaminant loads and infection sites.

"There is no way to study the movements of an untagged shark. Some leave the area but other sharks stay nearby for extended periods after tagging. Data...shows that these animals will frequently switch from a pattern of relatively restricted movement to long-distance migrations repeatedly even without a tagging event" the organization says.

Lydia's movements made headlines across the world while her location was being tracked across the ocean. Unfortunately, the shark is no longer being monitored by OCEARCH because her tracking tag ran out of battery power, researchers confirmed in 2018.

Unama'ki Shark
Unama'ki is one of the many sharks being tracked by data experts from the U.S marine organization OCEARCH, who previously suggested that she could be pregnant. Ami Meite/R.Snow/OCEARCH