File video: OCEARCH tags great white shark.
TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — It appears more great white sharks are embracing a snowbird lifestyle and heading toward Florida’s waters for the winter months.
OCEARCH reports a 10-foot, 341-pound female named Andromache pinged off the coast of Marco Island at 7:08 a.m. on Thursday. Andromache, first tagged by OCEARCH in August 2020 off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, has pinged off the coast of Florida before, around the same time in 2022.
Another great white, Crystal, pinged at 11:30 p.m. Nov. 2 off the coast of Daytona Beach near St. Augustine, Florida. The 10-foot, 460-pound female, named for North Carolina’s Crystal Coast, was first tagged off the Outer Banks in March 2022.
The warm-blooded mackerels are more commonly found in the cooler waters of the North Atlantic. They typically head south to warmer waters once the weather turns cold to find mates and reproduce in their preferred temperature range of 50 to 80 °F.
“It’s kind of like winter snowbirds, the sharks start heading south in the fall as the temperatures drop up north. We have probably about a dozen species that are on the move right now,” OCEARCH Senior Advisor for Science & Academics Dr. Bob Hueter told News 6.
According to Hueter, the annual migration typically begins in October and runs through early December.
“By early December, they are typically off the southeast coast, off the Florida East Coast, and then a great number of them go all the way around the Keys and into the Gulf of Mexico, the eastern Gulf of Mexico primarily,” he said.
Research shows the sharks typically stay about 100 miles offshore. They can travel up to 40 to 50 miles a day, according to George Burgess, a former researcher at the University of Florida.
Great whites are top of the food chain apex predators, meaning they have no natural predators or enemies.
According to NOAA, they can grow up to about 20 feet long and weigh over 4,500 pounds.