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Great white shark thought to be the largest in the world spotted off the coast of Hawaii

SALT LAKE CITY — That’s a 20 footer! A great white shark believed to be “Deep Blue,” the largest great white shark on record, was spotted 9 miles off Oahu’s southern shore this week, according to KHON2 News.

What happened: A group of divers discovered the shark feeding on the carcass of a dead sperm whale while monitoring a group of feeding tiger sharks, according to KHON2.

  • Divers reported the shark was over 20 feet long and 8 feet tall.
  • According to Ocean Ramsey, who led the diving team, the shark was “shockingly wide” and looked to be pregnant.
  • Ramsey said divers were surprised by the presence of dolphins on the scene, which typically avoid great white sharks. “There were two rough-tooth dolphins escorting her, nudging on her fins, twirling around her nose,” she said. “These guys wouldn’t leave her alone — they were having so much fun.”

Initial reports indicated the shark was Deep Blue, who was tagged 20 years ago and is believed to be 50 years old. Deep Blue was last seen in Mexico in 2013.

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Great white sharks are rarely seen in Hawaiian waters, as they prefer cooler seas. According to Melanie Hutchinson, a shark researcher for the University of Hawaii, they typically stick to deeper waters when in the area. The carcass of the sperm whale attracted this shark to the surface, she said.

Divers on the scene swam cageless with the great white, which Ramsey said was “probably the most gentle white I’ve ever seen.” Old, pregnant great whites are the safest to swim with, she said, but are still predators and can be very unpredictable.

Researchers and local officials have warned recreational divers and boaters to stay away from the sperm whale carcass unless they have a permit.