12-foot, 1,600-lb great white shark being tracked in Gulf of Mexico

By Brian Pascus

/ CBS News

A 12-foot-long, 1,600-pound great white shark has been located in the Gulf of Mexico and researchers are tracking its movements in order to better understand the species. According to the non-profit research group OCEARCH, the great white, affectionately nicknamed Miss Costa, was first found swimming in waters off the Florida Panhandle in March and has been moving north ever since.

Named after OCEARCH's partner Costa Sunglasses, Miss Costa was first spotted in 2016, swimming near Nantucket, Massachusetts. At the time she was 12 foot 5 inches long, but is now estimated to be as long as 14 or 15 feet. Miss Costa's discovery is significant, as she is only the third large-sized female great white to be tracked by OCEARCH into the Gulf of Mexico. Researchers are studying Miss Costa and other sharks in order to test a hypothesis regarding the migration patterns of adult female great whites in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean and Gulf of Mexico.

The non-profit research firm has it's own Twitter page with 104,000 followers. It features updates on shark movements and other aspects of marine biology. Researchers have even given Miss Costa her own Twitter page, featuring videos, fun facts and updates on her whereabouts.

As @MissCostaShark pings near the Florida Panhandle, she’s helping give a better understanding of white shark behavior in the Gulf of Mexico. PRESS RELEASE: https://t.co/q6vxXaNuWL pic.twitter.com/q5ARqqYvOi

— OCEARCH (@OCEARCH) April 16, 2019

According to OCEARCH, researchers have known great white sharks swim in the Gulf of Mexico but their movement there hasn't been as widely studied there as it has in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean. OCEARCH has been able to follow Miss Costa by applying an electric tracking pin to her dorsal fin that "pings" signals out showing her location as she moves.

First published on April 18, 2019 / 4:25 PM

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

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