A 1,000-pound (453 kg) migratory great white shark surfaced off the coast of New Jersey on April 28 while looking for rich fishing grounds further north.
Researchers dubbed the shark “Ironbound” when it was first captured and tagged in 2019, when it was found off West Ironbound Island near Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. The 3.7 meter long shark migrating when it appeared on the satellite.
“Mating season is over, we think, and Ironbound is on its way north to get into good feeding ground and bulk up again for next year,” Bob Hueter, chief scientist at the nonprofit Ocearch, told CNN. about the discovery.
Oceanarch identifies and tracks great white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) in an attempt to better understand their elusive migrations. A harmless device, called a SPOT tag, is attached to the dorsal fin and relays the shark’s location to a global positioning device (GPS) satellite. The tag is designed to fall off after a few years.
Trackers have a bit of a margin of error, which means the shark’s precise location could be outside a few feet or meters when they emerge within range of a GPS satellite.
“That error bar could be the difference between one side of Long Island and the other,” George Burgess, marine biologist and director emeritus of the Florida Program for Shark Research at the Florida Museum of Natural History, told Live Science in 2019. .
Hueter told CNN that Ocearch tagged great white sharks up to 17.5 feet (5 m) and as heavy as 4,000 pounds (1,814 kg), meaning the Ironbound is modest in size.
Ironbound has traveled around 20,921 kilometers since it was first marked. More recently, he was seen on May 3, according to data from Oceanarch, when the adult male was much further out in the Atlantic Ocean east of Philadelphia.
The Great Whites are famous among the public due to their appearance in films like “Jaws” (1975) and Sharknado (2013), along with the sequels of these franchises. That said, their behavior is nowhere near how the movies portray them.
“White sharks are often portrayed as ‘mindless killers’ and ‘tastiest of human flesh’. However, this does not seem to be the case; we just look like their food,” said Laura Ryan, a postdoctoral researcher at Macquarie University in Australia to Live Science.
They migrate for food and reproduction, and researchers have recorded them in temperate and tropical oceans around the world; they usually appear on the coasts of countries like the US, Australia and South Africa.
Great white sharks are vulnerable to extinction and have a declining population, according to a 2018 assessment by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). While sharks are not technically endangered, they are at risk of acquiring this status due to human threats such as overfishing.
Follow Elizabeth Howell on Twitter @howellspace.