12-foot great white shark located off New Jersey

It’s summer feeding season again, when great white sharks make their way up the east coast en route from the Gulf of Mexico to the cooler waters off Canada, hunting all the way. A battle-scarred 12-footer named Maple, which surfaced in Hudson Canyon off New Jersey last Friday, appears to be the latest to join the party.

A subadult female weighing 1,300 pounds and named after the national symbol of Canada, Maple was first tagged by OCEARCH, a global non-profit ocean research organization, and released on September 14, 2021, near Nova Scotia. Since then she has traveled more than 4,300 miles, swimming south to the southern tip of Florida on December 25, reaching as far west as the Mississippi Delta in February, returning to the Miami area late May, then moving up the Jersey Shore for the past three weeks.

And she is certainly not alone. Earlier this month, New Jersey angler Jim Piazza filmed a huge great white swimming right by his boat as he returned from a fishing trip off Sea Isle City.

“I almost crushed him. My son was like pointing at him like, ‘Hey, there’s a shark.’ And I’m like, ‘No way!’ It was just kind of a swim north towards Ocean City,” Piazza told WPVI TV Action News.

Over the past three days, OCEARCH has received pings from six of their great whites tagged along the coast from South Carolina to Newfoundland. Crystal, last pinged on Saturday just off Pleasant Bay in Maine, is the smallest of the lot at 10 feet and 460 pounds. Scot, a 13ft, 1,644lb, which crashed during spring break in Florida last March, is the tallest of the six and was last recorded on Sunday just off Long Bay, near the border between South Carolina and North Carolina. OCEARCH has tracked several other great whites, including Mahone, a 1,700-pounder, and Ironbound, to this stretch of coast over the past month.

But Maple is perhaps the most distinctive of the crowd. She has very visible scars on the left of her body, which the OCEARCH team believe were likely caused by an interaction with another great white shark. OCEARCH states that “this interaction was possibly an example of dominance behavior. It is not uncommon for sharks to show their dominance over a smaller animal of their species by delivering a large but non-lethal bite.

A close up of Maple’s battle scars, likely caused by another great white. OCEARCH

Ocearch tags and tracks great white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) and other marine animals to better understand their migration patterns and protect them from extinction. Their vessel, the M/V OCEARCH, is equipped with a hydraulic platform with a capacity of 75,000 pounds. When the research team carries a great white on deck, they use hoses to hydrate the beast’s gills and collect up to 12 biological samples in 15 minutes. Before releasing the specimen, they attach acoustic, accelerometer and SPOT tags, which work in coordination with a global positioning satellite. When a tagged shark approaches the surface of the water, its tracker will emit a “ping” to inform researchers of its location.

According to OCEARCH, “great white sharks are central to the functioning of ecosystems and the maintenance of biodiversity”. The tagging helps researchers learn about the migration habits of sharks, and how and where they mate and raise their young. As the summer shark feeding season heats up, East Coast anglers can expect to hear more pings from great white sharks cruising through local waters.

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