#21 That's Either A Small Whale or A Really Big Shark

Or so we thought when we caught a glimpse of something big in the water below us during our survey last week. Due to the sheer size of the animal, we initially suspected it to be a right whale calf hanging out at the surface, but after a quick once-over of the animal, it became evident that this was no whale.

Photo Credit: New England Aquarium, Kelly Slivka

We had in fact flown over an enormous great white shark, so large that in all likelihood it dwarfed the size of a newborn right whale--our best guess puts the shark at nearly 20 feet in length. Great white sharks are somewhat common in the waters off of Florida and up and down the Eastern seaboard.

These animals are oceanic wanderers, and can be found just about anywhere. We do take data points for sharks as a regular part of our research, and we were able to snap a photo before we continued on our survey. The shark seemed to be heading nowhere in any hurry and slowly slung its tail back and forth, side to side as it swam, its dorsal fin barely grazing the ocean's surface.




  1. Holy cow! 20 feet long!
    Do they eat right whale calves?

  2. That's a great question! Unfortunately, as with all questions we ask in the world of animal interaction, it's difficult to answer with any sort of certainty. I can tell you what we have seen, though, and let your own imagination and deductions take it from there. We have seen healthy young right whales baring scars that could be attributed to large shark bites due to the size and shape of the scar. We have also seen sharks actively scavenging on right whale carcasses floating in the water. However, we have not witnessed a shark attacking a right whale, and right whales are not a known part of the great white shark diet.

  3. soooo a sharke can kill a whale

  4. if an ideal paring of great whites is when the male is around two thirds the length of the female and national geographic caught, tagged and released a 5.5(18ft)MALE, it would suggest a perfect partner of 27 to 29 ft. food for thought.