1,300-Pound Great White Shark Named Hilton Spotted Near Florida Panhandle

It's the first time researchers have seen Hilton in the Gulf of Mexico.

A Twitter-famous shark turned up in a new location on Friday — near the Florida panhandle in the Gulf of Mexico.

The shark, named Hilton by scientists, is a 12.5-foot, 1,326-pound great white that has been tracked by shark research organization Ocearch since he was tagged in March 2017, according to the Pensacola News Journal.

Though his size may sound impressive, he’s not that big, relative to other great whites, which can weigh several tons, according to conservation group Oceana. However, Hilton does have about 29,000 Twitter followers — more than most sharks.

Hilton’s tracker transmits a signal, or “ping,” to researchers when Hilton’s dorsal fin comes above the water surface.

Hilton, named because he was caught and tagged near Hilton Head, South Carolina, “recently pinged in” from the Gulf of Mexico, Ocearch wrote in a Facebook post on Wednesday. The group hadn’t tracked him to the Gulf previously.

“After spending nearly a year ranging up and down the Atlantic coast from Nova Scotia to Florida, Hilton, a mature male white shark, popped up in the Gulf of Mexico west of the Florida Keys 10 days ago,” Ocearch chief science adviser Robert Heuter said in the Facebook post. “Since then he’s made his way toward the Florida panhandle, a famous fishing ground for sport fishermen.”

Heuter said Hilton is likely “doing a little fishing of his own” and “chowing down on the many fish of the canyon and shelf region there.”

The group also posted a photo of a map showing Hilton’s known locations connected by lines. However, because the locations are linked by straight lines — not necessarily the exact routes that Hilton actually took — one of the lines shows a route that crosses from the west side of Florida to the east side over land. 

The implication that Hilton traveled over land did not go unnoticed by people on social media, who joked about the “land shark.”

Ocearch quoted Bryan Franks, a shark biology specialist at Jacksonville University, in a Friday Facebook post on why Hilton may be taking to the Gulf. According to Franks, Hilton is likely drawn by the “nice buffet of food and range of water temperatures” the area provides.

Happy travels, Hilton! And please, try and give everyone a heads up if you decide to take a land route.



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