Video suggests great whites may stay in gulf longer

10:41 PM, Dec 7, 2009   |    comments
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St. Petersburg, Florida -- You can find more than 30 different kinds of sharks in the Gulf of Mexico, but did you know the most feared of them all also swims in the waters off Tampa Bay?

"People would be shocked to see that there's whites in Florida, but they are there," said Florida Fish and Wildlife research scientist Brent Winner.

"Right, it's not the rarity that we think," added Eric Hovland of The Florida Aquarium.

Great whites are known to swim in the gulf during winter months, but new video suggests some may stay in the area longer.

James Locascio was researching snapper near the Florida Keys this past June when his fixed low-light camera captured what experts agree is a 12-foot long white.

"It was a bit surprising. It's not unrealistic, but it is on the range of what is realistic, what you would expect," said Locascio. "The species temperature range is listed as the mid-50's to the mid-70's and the water temperature at that location, in that time was above that. Low 80's approximately."

Typically, whites also don't venture close to shore, preferring instead to stay in water that's at least 40-feet deep. But Winner says that's not always the case either.

"1965, February, they were setting nets for dolphin... and they caught, like, a 14-foot white shark at Mullet Key right here at the mouth of Tampa Bay. So, that's pretty close to shore," Winner said.

To see more of Locascio's video, click here.

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