Video: A fishing boat around a great white shark in the Florida Keys

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Florida Keys great whites can be a rare sight. Large migratory predators prefer cooler waters and only pass through when spotted in South Florida.

But when they do show up, most anglers, divers and others on the water consider it a treat.

Such was the case when Amanda Callahan, Chris Marotti, Fred Lewie and Eric Rasmussen, all of Cudjoe Key in the Lower Keys, went out for a day of fishing on Friday.

At around 1:30 p.m., they were about seven miles southwest of the American Shoal lighthouse in 280 feet of water when a large male white began to cruise around the open fisherman’s boat. from Rasmussen to Calcutta.

“The Gulf Stream was close that day and all the right conditions were there, the right time of day, current, tide, water temperature and wind, which resulted in a lot of activity” , Callahan told the Miami Herald/FLKeysnews.com.

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Callahan, an avid diver and fisherman, started filming the shark both underwater and on the surface. She posted the pictures on his YouTube channel Aquablu.

“Fishing and diving this last holiday weekend was great. We estimated the great white to be about 11-12 feet long when the boat beam [width] is about 9 feet and the shark easily passed that,” Callahan said. “A healthy 12-foot male great white shark would weigh around 1,000 pounds.”

They knew it was a male by the two staples between the shark’s front pelvic and rear anal fins, Callahan said.

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The way the shark was swimming, Callahan said he wasn’t in feeding mode and didn’t seem too interested in the boat or the people on board splashing around to get his attention.

“He wasn’t feeding because we threw in a dead bonito, and he wasn’t interested,” Callahan said. “But it was great to see.”

Callahan, 31, is a professional diving instructor and rebreather diver, who has been diving for more than six years.

“We don’t want to encourage people to enter the water with an apex predator, and it should only be done under professional supervision,” she said. Marotti, Callahan’s boyfriend, is also a lifelong diver.

“The other two guys have decades of experience angling in the Lower Keys,” she said.

“Absolute marvel of evolution”

Mahmood Shivji, a professor in the Department of Biological Sciences at Nova Southeastern University and director of Guy Harvey Research Institutesaid white sharks “are long-distance travelers as a natural part of their life cycle and have been known to move through South Florida waters during their migrations.”

When not migrating, they prefer cooler ocean waters, and that’s where they tend to hang out.

“White sharks are one of the few sharks that can keep their body temperature warm, so they can roam in cooler waters,” Shivji said.

White sharks are not listed as endangered, but they are managed by the federal government and it is not legal to harvest them. Shivji calls them “an absolute evolutionary marvel” and cited recent research at Nova’s Halmos College of Arts and Sciences for example.

In this work, researchers from the School of South Florida sequenced the entire genome of the white shark species. Shivji said scientists “found remarkable positive genetic changes in several of his genes” that make his genome more stable. This could have positive impacts on human medicine since unstable genomes lead to cancer.

Shivji said the research has also revealed positive changes in the sharks’ genes involved in their healing process that could explain how the fish are able to recover so quickly from injuries.

“It’s a privilege to see such an amazing animal live in its natural habitat,” Shivji said after seeing Callahan’s video.

This story was originally published April 19, 2022 4:40 p.m.

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David Goodhue covers the Florida Keys and South Florida for FLKeysNews.com and the Miami Herald. Prior to joining the Herald, he covered Congress, the Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Energy in Washington, DC. He graduated from the University of Delaware.

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