A huge great white shark spotted off the US coast has terrified swimmers and thrilled researchers as apex predators migrate north to feed.
A four-meter monstrous white shark has been spotted swimming off the coast of New Jersey in the United States.
Named “Ironbound” in honor of the island of West Ironbound near Nova Scotia where it was first spotted, the shark weighs over 450kg and was believed to be traveling north to Canadian waters as part of an annual migration. .
Ironbound was first tagged with an electronic locator by the nonprofit marine research group OCEARCH in 2019, meaning researchers will receive a “ping” every time it breaks the ocean’s surface.
OCEARCH chief scientist Bob Hueter said Ironbound was probably around 20 years old and, terrifyingly, didn’t even come close to the largest shark the group had encountered.
“When we labeled it, it was impressive,” Hueter said, adding that the group had labeled sharks that weighed up to two tons and spanned over five and a half meters.
To date, the largest (reliably) recorded white shark was over six meters long, found off the coast of Western Australia in 1987.
Unconfirmed reports claim that sharks exceeding seven meters have been found.
However, as Hueter explained, very little is known about the species, making Ironbound’s recent “ping” crucial for research.
“The great whites are moving north to the very rich feeding grounds off the coast of Canada and the northeastern United States,” Hueter said.
“The mating season is over, we think, and Ironbound is on its way north to get into a good feeding zone and beef up again for next year.
“Sharks have been around for about 400 million years … in many cases they occupy what is called the apex predator position in marine food webs.
“Just like on land, this plays an important role in maintaining the health and balance of the lower parts of the food chain.”
The large white population began to decline dramatically in the 1980s, but has seen a small recovery in recent years, aided by the International Union for Conservation of Nature which has labeled the animals as “vulnerable”.
Originally published as A huge white shark has been spotted off the US coast