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Researchers off the coast of Nova Scotia found a nearly 2-ton great white shark believed to be roughly 50 years old, dubbing her a true “Queen of the Ocean.”
Coming in at more than 17 feet long and 3,541 pounds, she is the largest shark the group has been able to sample in the Northwest Atlantic, according to a Friday Facebook post by OCEARCH, a non-profit marine research organization. She’s been named Nukumi for “the legendary wise old grandmother figure” of the Indigenous Mi'kmaq people, a First Nations group native to that region of Canada.
Chris Fischer, the OCEARCH expedition leader, called Nukumi a “proper Queen of the Ocean” in a video log posted Saturday.
“She’s probably 50-years-old and certainly her first litters of pups she would have been having 30 years ago are also making babies, really humbling to stand next to a large animal like that,” Fischer said. “When you look at all the healed-over scars and blotches and things that are on her skin, you’re really looking at the story of her life and it makes you feel really insignificant.”
Great white sharks can live up to at least 60 years, according to the Smithsonian, though scientists are constantly learning new information about the storied predators of the sea. Sharks are among the earth’s oldest living animals.
Fossils of a creature believed to be the ancestor of the great white shark, Megalodon, is estimated to have lived more than 20 million years ago. Another shark ancestor, Helicoprion, is believed to have swum the ocean nearly 290 million years ago, the Smithsonian said.
OCEARCH researchers have been finding and tagging sharks for several days to learn more about the predators. Fischer said in an update posted Monday that they found two additional female great white sharks on Monday, totaling nine that they’ve been able to sample and tag on the nearly monthlong expedition.
The group is nearing the end of their current expedition, but Fischer called the trip “hugely successful” on “multiple levels.”