Huge great white shark heading for UK shores after becoming second ever to cross the Atlantic

The 50-year-old matriarch is the largest ever tagged in the region by scientists

A 17ft great white shark has become only the second in history to cross the Atlantic and could be headed straight for British shores.

The 3,541lb female shark Nukumi usually swims up and down the west coast of America and Canada.

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The 50-year-old matriarch is the largest ever tagged in the region by scientists who are monitoring her.

In a highly unusual move, the great white shark took a swerve from its usual route (Photo credit should read CARL DE SOUZA/AFP via Getty Images)

In a highly unusual move, the great white shark took a swerve from its usual route, moving across the Atlantic over the Mid-Atlantic Ridge.

1,700 nautical miles of UK shores

Shark trackers at the science organisation OCEARCH received a ‘ping’ from a GPS tracker on the shark’s dorsal fin, showing her move nearer Europe.

Nukumi's two-month voyage has so far taken her to 1,700 nautical miles off British shores - and experts admitted: "She is capable of reaching the UK coast".

The only other great white shark tracked making the crossing was Lydia, in April 2014, which stunned scientists with an epic journey to the coast of Portugal.

Experts reckon Nakumi is on the move because she could be pregnant, and is looking for a place to give birth away from her aggressive male counterparts.

OCEARCH's chief scientist Dr. Bob Hueter said: "At this point in her track, Nukumi has crossed from the western Atlantic to the eastern Atlantic over the Mid-Atlantic Ridge, the dividing feature between west and east.

"She has been swimming eastward for about two months since she left the U.S. coast off the state of North Carolina.

"As of her last known location, Nukumi was still about 1,700 nautical miles from the UK.

"Now, that is less than her distance from the U.S. coast, so she is capable of reaching the UK coast.

"But we would not predict that she will do that, as white sharks are rare off the UK.

Great White Shark over 50-years-old

Nukumi is the largest white shark tagged in the Northwest Atlantic by OCEARCH to date, and researchers believe she is over 50 years old judging by her large scars.

Tracking from non-profit OCEARCH, who attached a tag to her dorsal fin in Nova Scotia in October 2020, shows she travels on average 44 miles each day.

The sharks are given a position and temperature tag which utilizes satellites to send their location each time they reach the surface.

Nukumi left the North Carolina coast on February 22 and since being tagged has travelled around 5,570 miles.

She crossed the ridge around April 5, and has 'pinged' a number of times since.

She has potentially had 15 reproductive cycles and up to a hundred babies, which would now be old enough to have their own.

Her name means 'grandmother' in the Miꞌkmaq language of indigenous people of Nova Scotia.

Dr Hueter thinks that Nukumi could be pregnant and is heading away from the predatory males closer to the US.

He said: "Nukumi is the largest shark in our North Atlantic White Shark Study, so it is possible she could show us some new wrinkles in the migration of this species in the North Atlantic.

"A proportion of the large, adult female white sharks we have tagged, have made these offshore, looping forays, far out into the western Atlantic.

"The hypothesis that we have developed is that these females are pregnant, having mated off the U.S. coast and now heading away from the main population to gestate their young.

"She is likely taking advantage of deep-living prey such as squid and fish that live out in the open sea at depth.

"We won't be able to confirm any of this until we see more of her track, and she is also carrying a pop-up satellite tag due to report to us in September.

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