Great White Shark Unama'ki Pings off Newfoundland after Mystery Trip to Deep Sea

A 2,000-pound great white shark that was recently tracked heading into the open ocean has popped up on radar off Newfoundland, Canada.

Known as Unama'ki, the 15-foot, 5-inch fish is being tracked by experts from the U.S marine organization OCEARCH as she traverses the seas. Researchers say the mature female may lead them to a "white shark nursery" should she ever give birth.

"Today [Unama'ki] is exploring the northeast portion of the Grand Banks. This region of the ocean is well known as one of the world's richest fishing grounds. Who thinks she's enjoying herself?" the OCEARCH Twitter account wrote on July 2.

It was the latest satellite ping from the apex predator, previously recorded approaching Bermuda as part of a research project detailing the species' behavior and movement. In April, scientists speculated the shark could be moving off coast to gestate.

After the shark's venture towards the deep sea around Bermuda, she appears to have turned 90 degrees and headed back in the direction of land, following the coast.

Today @UnamakiShark is exploring the northeast portion of the Grand Banks. This region of the ocean is well known as one of the world’s richest fishing grounds. Who thinks she’s enjoying herself? pic.twitter.com/L4iukgAUYu

— OCEARCH (@OCEARCH) July 2, 2020

A profile on the region by Encyclopædia Britannica says the mingling of the cold and warmer water provides "favorable conditions for the growth of plankton," which many fish depend on for their food supply, either directly or indirectly.

It says the Grand Banks, which is a portion of the North American continental shelf in the Atlantic Ocean, is home to cod, haddock, flatfish, herring, and mackerel.

According to the non-profit OCEARCH, Unama'ki has traveled more than 10,000 miles since being tagged in September last year at Scaterie Island, Nova Scotia. After being brought onto a submerged platform on the scientists' boat, the sharks are labeled and samples are taken, including blood, tissue, bacteria and sperm.

The team then runs studies on the samples to determine reproductive cycles, genetic and gestation periods, while searching for areas of infection or parasites.

In late April, Unama'ki pinged as she ventured into the deep sea. One expert leading the expedition told Newsweek it was not too unusual, based on previous data. "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 hypothesis... is that they are gestating. 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.

"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 added.

Until she resurfaces, Unama'ki's next destination remains a mystery.

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