HomeOutdoorsNewsMassive 1,200-Pound Great White Shark Was Just Tracked Mere Miles From Maryland Coast

Massive 1,200-Pound Great White Shark Was Just Tracked Mere Miles From Maryland Coast

by Caitlin Berard
(Photo by USO via Getty Images)

In 2007, a group of scientists with a shared passion for the research and conservation of the ocean’s fiercest predators formed OCEARCH, a non-profit dedicated to returning “balance and abundance” to the world’s oceans.

Since its inception, the organization has successfully tagged and tracked over 400 great white sharks and other marine animals over the course of 43 daring expeditions, collecting data invaluable to the longevity of the species and the health of aquatic ecosystems as a whole.

The 400 white sharks logged in their system vary greatly in size, from juveniles on the smaller side to titans of the sea like Nukumi. The 50-year-old grandmother great white lovingly dubbed “Queen of the Ocean” stretches an astounding 17 feet in length and weighs over 3,500 pounds.

Nukumi is an extremely rare shark, among the largest of the apex predators in the ocean. But the more “normal” sized members of her species are just as fearsome.

Take Ironbound, for example, a great white recently tracked off the coast of Maryland. OCEARCH scientists first tagged the massive male in 2019, when they found him in the waters of Nova Scotia. Though far smaller than The Queen, Ironbound is still staggeringly large at 12 feet long and 1,200 pounds.

Why Has Ironbound the Great White Shark Traveled So Far?

On November 24, Ironbound’s tracker “pinged” at around 5 p.m. EST. He had traveled all the way from Nova Scotia to Maryland and was exploring the depths just 40 miles off the coast. So, what made Ironbound travel so far south from his former home in Canada?

Well, like millions of other fish, great white sharks actually migrate for the winter. Though hearty animals, great whites thrive in water temperatures between 54 and 75 degrees. In winter, the ocean waters near Nova Scotia plummet to 38 degrees, far too cold for the apex predators’ preference.

To escape the frigid conditions, sharks journey to the friendlier waters around the Carolinas, Georgia, and Florida, where they spend the cold winter months. “Most, but not all, species of highly mobile sharks in the Northern hemisphere move southward in the winter, as they are following their food,” Gavin Naylor, director at the Florida Program for Shark Research, told Newsweek.

Tomorrow (November 28), OCEARCH will embark on its 44th expedition. Their journey will last two weeks, during which the crew will track great white sharks’ migration from Canada to the Southeastern United States.

“Some of our sharks, like Cabot and Ulysses, are enjoying the last moments of their summer/fall foraging off Atlantic Canada,” OCEARCH said in a Facebook post. “While others, like Hali and Andromache, have begun their winter residency off of Florida.”

Ironbound, the 1,200-pound behemoth currently journeying past Maryland, has made many migrations in his lifetime. Since 2019, OCEARCH has tracked Ironbound from the waters of Nova Scotia all the way to the Florida Keys and back again.