Great White Sharks Surround Whales Off Florida And Georgia

Eight Great White sharks weighing up to 1,200 pounds were tracked swimming off of the north Florida and Georgia coasts during the same time that North Atlantic right whales were spotted migrating to the same Atlantic waters.

Vimy, one of the sharks swimming off the Georgia coast, was bitten by another Great White shark last month. Credit: Ocearch

However, adult right whales can measure up to 50 feet in length and weigh up to 140,000 pounds, dwarfing the sharks.

Although adult right whales are protected by their sheer size from Great White sharks, their calves are vulnerable to the apex predator.

From November 15 to April 15 each year, pregnant females migrate from their northern feeding grounds to the sheltered waters of the calving ground to give birth to their young off of the east coasts of Georgia and Florida.

A mother right whale and her calf off the Georgia coast. Credit: Sea to Shore Alliance, taken under NOAA research permit # 15488

But Great White sharks also head to warmer waters off the U.S. east coast during the winter in search of food, placing the sharks in the migrating paths of the right whales.

And the Great White shark population has been growing along the U.S. East Coast, according to a study by NOAA Fisheries.

The North Atlantic right whale hasn’t been so fortunate. It is one of the most endangered large whales in the world, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Approximately 500 animals remain of the western North Atlantic population.

Whalers labeled these animals “right whales” because they considered them the “right” whales to hunt. They swam slowly in coastal waters, floated when dead, and yielded large amounts of oil and baleen.

Right whales had been hunted to near extinction when hunting was finally banned in 1935.

Right whales lack a dorsal fin. Instead, they have a large, flat back. When right whales breathe they produce a V-shaped blow that is often as high as 15 feet and is visible from a great distance.

When Right Whales are active off Florida and Georgia, speed restrictions of 10 knots apply to vessels 65 feet or greater in specific areas and times along the U.S. East Coast.

It is illegal to approach right whales within 500 yards, according to NOAA.

To stay up-to-date on the sharks’ latest locations, visit the Ocearch tracking map.

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