Pregnant great white shark weighing 2,000-pound swims more than 700 miles away from the northeast US coast to avoid males that want to mate

  • A great white, named Unama’ki, swam 700 miles deep into the Atlantic Ocean
  • Experts believe she is pregnant and made the trip to avoid mating from males
  • They also say the water temperature and food sources are ideal for her young
  • Experts have been tracking the shark with a device since September 2019 

A massive 15-foot-long, 2,000-pound great white shark has fled deep into the Atlantic to avoid mating attempts from other males.

The female, dubbed Unama’ki, is believe to be pregnant as she swam more than 700 miles east of Cape Cod, Massachusetts – experts call this a ‘pelagic journey.’

Researchers fitted Unama’ki with a satellite tracking device in September 2019 that pings when her fin breaches the surface – and the team has been tracker the animal since.

While tracking the shark, the team noticed pings from over a week ago that it had was quickly traveling to the north, but the latest data shows she has turned back around and is sitting in a part of the mid-Atlantic, according to Newsweek.

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Unama’ki’s name comes from Nova Scotia’s indigenous Mi’kmaq people’s name for Cape Breton Island, ‘land of the fog.’

And she was tagged by the northwest Atlantic by OCEARCH, a non-profit team of scientists, which hauled her out of the water in September to apply the device.

Since then, she ‘pinged’ of South Carolina’s Myrtle Beach in October 2019, then the shark swam out north of Bermuda and has now made her way up to waters off the coast of Massachusetts.

Researches noticed that last month, Unama’ki left the eastern US coast and made her way deeper into the ocean – something experts call a ‘pelagic journey.’

Unama'ki's name comes from Nova Scotia's indigenous Mi'kmaq people's name for Cape Breton Island, 'land of the fog.' And she was tagged by the northwest Atlantic by OCEARCH, a non-profit team of scientists, which hauled her out of the water in September (pictured)

Unama’ki’s name comes from Nova Scotia’s indigenous Mi’kmaq people’s name for Cape Breton Island, ‘land of the fog.’ And she was tagged by the northwest Atlantic by OCEARCH, a non-profit team of scientists, which hauled her out of the water in September (pictured)

Since being tagged in near Nova Scotia September 2019, she 'pinged' of South Carolina's Myrtle Beach in October 2019, then the shark swam out north of Bermuda in April and has now made her way up to waters off the coast of Massachusetts

Since being tagged in near Nova Scotia September 2019, she ‘pinged’ of South Carolina’s Myrtle Beach in October 2019, then the shark swam out north of Bermuda in April and has now made her way up to waters off the coast of Massachusetts

Great white sharks: Feared predators of the deep

  • Great white sharks have such a strong sense of smell that they can detect a colony of seals two miles away 
  • Great whites give birth to up to ten ‘pups’ but mothers will eat them if they don’t swim off fast enough 
  • They swim at up to 37mph  at full pelt and burst out of the water from below their prey
  • They attack 5-10 humans every year but usually just take a ‘sample bite’ out of curiosity before swimming off 
  • Great whites can live to up to 70 years old   
  • They are coloured white underneath to make them harder to see from below with sunlight shining down 
  • They have several rows of teeth that can number into the thousands
  • As their teeth fall out they are replaced by razor sharp teeth in the row behind      

 

And the only sharks that are observed doing this are large females.

OCEARCH believes that the female sharks that do this journey are pregnant at the time and they hope this means Unama’ki will take them to birthing ground for great white sharks.

OCEARCH’s founding chairman and expedition leader Chris Fischer told Newsweek: ‘We have tracked at least one big mature female returning from one of these journeys by heading straight back to the New York Bight, which is a white shark nursery.’

‘This is further indirect evidence that they may be gestating while in the open ocean.’

Fischer noted that there are three reasons why females travel to deeper regions of the ocean and then loop back around.

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He told Newsweek that this is a strategy to avoid males from trying to mate with them while they are pregnant.

Another reason is the water temperatures are more favorable for young sharks and the last reason is, the sharks be looking for an abundant food source for their babies to feed on once they are born.

Fischer also explained that males regularly take these migration loops, but it is a rare sighting when a female does.

OCEARCH researchers believe Unama’ki could soon make her way back to the waters off Nova Scotia, Canada – if the data have collected on her behavior is accurate.

The team also thinks there are two sub-populations of great white sharks in those waters and one tends to gather near Nova Scotia.



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