1,200-pound great white shark spotted off Florida

A massive great white shark weighing about 1,200 pounds was tracked off the coast of Florida this week. The shark, named Maple by OSEARCH, which tracks sharks, is 11 feet and 7 inches.

The great white was spotted about 43 miles off the coast of St. George’s island on Monday, OSEARCH wrote on Facebook. Her arrival off the coast coincides with the time spring breakers will flock to the sunshine state.

Maple has been in the Gulf of Mexico for a few weeks but last year traveled up and down the East Coast, after first being tagged in Canada in 2021, OSEARCH tracking data shows. The organization first tagged Maple two years ago, and has continued to monitor her along with dozens of other sharks they have tagged.

She was named after the maple leaf, the emblem on Canada’s flag. Maple has a wound on her left side, and researchers believe it was caused by a larger white shark that was trying to show its dominance with a non-fatal bite.

Another great white, named Tancook by OSEARCH, has also been spotted near the northern part of the state in the Atlantic. The 715 lb. male was spotted off the coast of Jacksonville on Tuesday.

CBS News has reached out to OSEARCH for more information and is awaiting response.

Last March, a 12-foot great white was tracked off the coast of Naples after being spotted in the Florida Keys, OSEARCH said, according to CBS Miami.

Female great whites are bigger than males – and can grow up to 16 feet long, compared to males’ 13 feet. Some great whites, however, can reach up to 20 feet, according to the Smithsonian.

With an uptick in travel to the state, spring may seem like an inopportune time for these sharks to visit Florida, but sharks typically move toward the shore in the spring and summer, according to Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC). They reach their peak in Florida between April and October.

“It’s very important for people who visit Florida waters to be aware of their surroundings, understand the relative risks, and be educated on various shark issues such as behavior, biology and fisheries,” said Brent Winner, a scientist for the FWC.

While sharks may be more prevalent near Florida beaches as the weather warms up, FWC says humans are actually more dangerous to sharks: fisheries kill about 100 million sharks a year, while less than 10 humans are killed by sharks annually.

FWC says humans are actually 30 times more likely to be struck by lightning than to be bitten by a shark, and 99% of Florida shark attacks are not fatal.

Great whites not only live on the East Coast of the U.S., but also in the Pacific – from Alaska to California, Hawaii, and Mexico, according to NOAA. 

Last month, a video of sharks thrashing in the ocean as they fed on fish went viral. The video, captured by Dillon May off the coast of Venice, Louisiana, showed the hungry sharks aggressively eating a bait pod near a fishing boat.

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