Scientists tracking a 50-year-old great white shark by the name of Nukumi have just discovered it has managed to cross the Atlantic and is heading towards British shores!
A mother shark on a mission
The shark is a 3,500 lbs female who is suspected of being pregnant and escaping her aggressive predatory male counterparts in order to gestate her offspring. Nukumi has been tracked and monitored by science organization OCEARCH for a couple of years and is only the second shark in history to have made the transatlantic voyage after Lydia, another North American matriarch who went all the way to Portugal in 2014.
According to the non-profit organisation, Nukumi has thus far travelled 5,570 miles since having left North Carolina on 22 February, travelling on average 44 miles each day.
Usually, great white sharks tend to remain in familiar territory for a large part of their lives and are rarely seen crossing the Mid-Atlantic Ridge—the barrier in the middle of the ocean—but OCEARCH's chief scientist Dr. Bob Hueter explained that:
At this point in her track, Nukumi has crossed from the western Atlantic to the eastern Atlantic over the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, the dividing feature between west and east. She has been swimming eastward for about two months since she left the U.S. coast off the state of North Carolina. As of her last known location, Nukumi was still about 1,700 nautical miles from the UK.
A potential fatal voyage?
However, this could prove to be dangerous for the daredevil shark as considering her age and her size she could be met with obstacles along her journey.
The hypothesis that we have developed is that these females are pregnant, having mated off the U.S. coast and now heading away from the main population to gestate their young.She is likely taking advantage of deep-living prey such as squid and fish that live out in the open sea at depth.
One concern we have is that there is major fishing activity out in the areas where she is traveling, with huge fleets of longliners fishing for other specie. She is a massive white shark and could tear through a lot of fishing gear, but any interaction with hooks and lines could pose a severe risk to her survival.