A huge shark dubbed the “Queen of the Ocean” managed to dodge researchers after they finally caught her two years ago.
Weighing more than 250st (3,500lbs) and spanning a whopping 17ft in diameter, Nukumi the great white shark was caught in the north Atlantic in October 2020 and fitted with tracking tags by a team at research organisation Ocearch.
The initial plan was to track Nukumi for the next five years – however, just two years on, Nukumi is nowhere to be found.
CEO of Ocearch Chris Fischer told the Daily Star: “We don’t know [what happened to Nukumi].
“Something happened and [her tags] were damaged or malfunctioned while she was way offshore in the middle of the Atlantic.
“We believe she is OK because we received some faint signals from her tag sometime later, but it’s uncertain.”
Nukumi was first caught just off the coast of Nova Scotia.
She was thought to be more than 50 years old and Fischer said at the time she’d lived a “rich life” and was “a proper Queen of the Ocean and a matriarch”.
The team collected data from Nukumi for 21 different research projects, including giving her an ultrasound, taking bacteria samples from her teeth and using fecal samples to learn more about her diet.
Ocearch also took blood, muscle and skin samples.
The researchers also fitted the shark with several tags to track her whereabouts and planned to monitor her over the next five years.
However, these tags stopped feeding back information last summer, Ocearch’s chief scientist Dr. Bob Hueter told the Daily Star.
He said: “We tagged Nukumi off West Ironbound Island, Nova Scotia, on 2 October 2020.
“She proceeded to provide good SPOT satellite tag data (which is used for the OCEARCH Tracker) for about six months.
“Unfortunately we have not received any further data from her SPOT tag since then, probably due to a tag failure or compromise, but in mid-May 2021 her pop-up satellite archival tag (PSAT) [a different kind of tag used to detect the movement of large marine animals] detached from her and began transmitting about 425 nautical miles east of Newfoundland.
“The data we received from that tag showed that Nukumi was alive and behaving normally at that point.”
Nukumi’s last known position was at Passamaquoddy Bay, between the US state of Maine and the Canadian province of New Brunswick, in June 2021, at which point Dr Hueter said she was “alive and well”.