Joan of Shark is the nickname given by scientists to a great white shark that was tagged off the coastline of western Australia. The reason she was given such a frightful nickname was because she also happens to be the largest animal they’ve ever tagged with a satellite monitoring device.
In a related report by The Inquisitr, Australian authorities had a beach closed because the tag on Joan of Shark alerted them that the deadly predator was lurking nearby. This is possible because of a network of more than 300 monitors put down onto the ocean floor in order to follow the sharks around the oceans.
Instead of culling the numbers of the great white, sharks like Joan of Shark are instead captured in order to surgically install the devices. But what makes Joan of Shark so interesting is that she weighs 1.8 tons and measured more than 16 feet. According to Mark Kleeman, project manager for the Shark Monitoring Network, this means Joan of Shark is “unprecedented” when it comes to the tagging program:
“This is very exciting and potentially a world first. Lots of juveniles get tagged, but to have a fully mature female and get 10 years of data out of it is a big thing for us. We are excited by the potential of what this shark can give us. We will be able to see where it is traveling and how often. Over time we will be able to build the data and then we can see if there are any pasterns forming, which is a great start for understanding more about them.”
The Fisheries Department also says Joan of Shark was tagged for a second time after a whale carcass lured it toward shallow waters:
“Obviously with that whale incidence and the distress signals that would have sent out, it would have attracted sharks and they will probably frequent the beach on and off for the next few days.”
Now Joan of Shark is big, but she’s not that big compared to those out in the wild. The largest great white sharks can reach up to 20 feet in length and weigh up to 2.5 tons, which makes Joan something of a middle-weight class. The fastest great white can swim up to 15 mph and can leap completely out of the water in order to take a bite.
National Geographic also reports that Joan of Shark is also not the largest great white shark to be caught. This honor goes to a female shark caught off of Ledge Point, Australia, which is also where Joan of Shark prefers to lurk. Back in 1984, this great white beast was measured at 5.9 meters long, while Joan of Shark is only 5.3 meters. But the Canadians claim they once caught a 6.1 meter-long great white, and another known as The Cuban measured at 6.4 meters was supposedly caught by fishermen in the Gulf of Mexico in 1945. More recently in 2013, a great white shark attack in Hawaii was estimated to involve a great white measuring an astounding 7.2 meters, although this was never verified.