Ocearch catch great white shark called Nukumi near Nova Scotia
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A 17 foot (five-metre) great white shark has taken an unexpected turn in its voyage through the deep, leading some experts to fear that it will make it to UK waters. The shark is known as Nukumi and has been tracked by researchers at OCEARCH using a tagging device. The 3,541-pound beast usually swims along the coast of the US and Canada, but the latest ‘ping’ from a chip inserted into its dorsal fin shows it in the middle of the Atlantic.
Great whites rarely migrate across the Mid-Atlantic Ridge – a barrier in the middle of the ocean – but Nukumi appears to have passed it.
The 50-year-old female great white is now just 1,700 nautical miles from the UK.
OCEARCH’s chief scientist Dr Bob Hueter said: “Now, that is less than her distance from the U.S. coast, so she is capable of reaching the UK coast.”
However, he added: “We would not predict that she will do that, as white sharks are rare off the UK.”
Can great white sharks survive in UK waters?
The short answer is that experts do not really know.
There have been over 100 great white sightings around the UK, but none of the claims have ever been verified.
It is also important to note there has never been a shark attack in British waters either.
However, “British waters do provide good conditions for White Sharks, so it’s not impossible,” according to Shark Trust.
Great white sharks prefer to hunt in waters which have a temperature of between 12 and 24 degrees Celsius.
In the winter months, British waters tend to be between 6C to 10C but in the summer months, the average sea temperature around the British isles is between 15C to 20C.
Dr Ken Collins of the University of Southampton has said: “You get Great Whites off the coast of South Africa where the water is colder than here and I see no reason why we should not have them in our waters.
“There are Great Whites in the Med, which isn’t too far away and so I see no reason why they shouldn’t be spotted here, particularly off the coast of Cornwall where there is an abundant supply of seals, which is their favourite food.”
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However, as climate change continues to warm the ocean, sharks could become more common around the British Isles over the next three decades.
Dr Collins said: “It’s likely we will be seeing more sharks spread from warmer regions such as the Mediterranean Sea towards our waters in the UK over the next 30 years.
“These include the likes of blacktips, sand tigers and hammerheads, which are currently found swimming off the coasts of Spain and Portugal.”
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