Huge Great White Shark Unama'ki Spotted Further Northeast in Gulf of Mexico Than Expected

A large great white shark fitted with a tracking device has been observed swimming in an unexpected location just off the U.S. coast.

The tracker of the shark—known as Unama'ki—pinged in the far northeast of the Gulf of Mexico almost directly south of Tallahassee, Florida, on January 31, according to marine research non-profit OCEARCH.

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

The most recent data from the shark's tracker suggests that the animal has moved in a westerly direction since then. On February 2, Unama'ki's monitoring device pinged almost directly south of Panama City Beach, Florida.

OCEARCH has been tagging sharks all around the world since 2007—and Unama'ki is the second largest the non-profit has ever caught in the northwest Atlantic region.

The female measures around 15 feet and 5 inches in length and weighs more than 2,000 pounds. She was caught and tagged in the waters off Cape Breton, Nova Scotia, Canada, last September.

"Unama'ki is the biggest white shark currently pinging on the Tracker," OCEARCH said in the Facebook post.

The shark's name means "land of the fog" in the language of the Miꞌkmaq First Nations people, referring to the area of Cape Breton.

OCEARCH's research over the years has revealed some intriguing new insights into the lives of great white sharks off the North American coast.

OCEARCH, Unama’ki
The shark Unama’ki aboard the OCEARCH research vessel. OCEARCH/R. Snow

"One of the most exciting recent discoveries that we are still learning more about is just how important Canada is to Northwest Atlantic white sharks," OCEARCH Founding Chairman and Expedition Leader Chris Fischer previously told Newsweek. "For years it has been known that places like Cape Cod are fall hotspots for white sharks, but Canada was never really on anyone's radar."

"But two expeditions to Nova Scotia have showed us that something very special is happening up there. There are way more white sharks than anyone previously suspected. Now we're drilling down and trying to understand how they are utilizing Canadian waters and whether or not there are two sub-populations of white sharks in the Northwest Atlantic," he said.

OCEARCH's monitoring has also revealed a white shark nursery off the coast of Long Island.

"These nurseries are where white sharks give birth and where white shark pups are most vulnerable and need the most protection," Fischer said.

In late October, Unama'ki's tracker pinged in the Gulf of Mexico for the first time since her roughly 2,000-mile-long journey from Cape Breton. This is surprisingly early in the year for great white sharks to be entering the Gulf, according to OCEARCH.