Massive 3,500-pound shark spotted off coast of North America

A 3,500 pound great white shark named Nukumi, which means "Queen of the Ocean", has been sighted off the coast of Nova Scotia. The massive 50-year-old shark has been tagged and released by Ocearch, a research and exploration team hoping its final voyage at sea will provide new clues to unravel the secrets of the great whites.
"When you see such tall women who have scars from decades in their lives and multiple mating cycles, you can really see the story of their life stretching across all the spots and healed wounds on their bodies," said team leader Chris Fischer Jeff Glor of CBS News. "It really hits you differently, thank you for thinking."
A 50-year-old, 3,500-pound shark nicknamed Nukumi
Tagging Nukumi, one of the largest great white sharks ever seen, was the culmination of Ocearch's month-long journey off the North American coast, escaping storms for 21 days in the middle of an unprecedented hurricane season in the Atlantic.
Tagging Nukumi, one of the largest great white sharks ever seen, was the culmination of Ocearch's month-long journey. / Photo credit: CBS News / Ocearch
In the end, Ocearch was able to successfully examine and release a total of eight great white sharks, including the so-called "Queen of the Ocean".
Fischer stated that the pursuit of Nukumi provides a "great opportunity" to show researchers "where the great white shark is born in Atlantic Canada" - something that has never been seen before.
In addition to gathering more information about their birth, Ocearch's goal is to learn more about the apex predators that keep the ocean in balance.
"If they thrive, the system thrives," explained Fischer. "The great white shark is the keeper of balance, and the way to abundance is through them."
Without great white sharks in the ocean, stocks of fish that humans rely on could be wiped out by overpopulation of seals and squid.
"If we understand their lives, we can help them thrive," he said.
They try not to keep any shark out of the water for more than 15 minutes while the animal is supported by a frenzy of seawater. / Photo credit: CBS News / Ocearch
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Researchers can use Ocearch's satellite tags to track sharks for five years. Tagging consists of hooking the shark in a smaller boat, then sliding it onto a large lift and allowing scientists to take blood samples and put a label on the dorsal fin, which they believe doesn't cause pain due to lack of blood and nerve connections . They try not to keep any shark out of the water for more than 15 minutes while the animal is supported by a frenzy of seawater.
Fischer defended the team's methods, which were criticized as being too invasive.
"If you look at the blood data and the stress data, it doesn't show anything," he said.
He said Ocearch's mission is "orders of magnitude larger" than anything previously done in great white shark research, which intimidates the "traditional scientific community that uses really primitive methods."
"We are studying the biology of the great white shark while getting a complete picture of it and the ecology of the great white shark," said Fischer.
While sharks are "in much better shape in North America than they were decades ago," said Fischer, the real challenge will be to tackle declining shark populations around the world.
"Try to move the great white sharks in the right direction, create awareness and hope that this has an impact on fish and marine mammal populations," he said. "I think you look more like you have to have a 100 year vision."

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