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12-Foot Great White Shark Pinged West Of Naples After Hanging Around Florida Keys

MIAMI (CBSMiami/CNN) - Florida's west coast has an unexpected spring breaker - a large great white shark.

On March 24th, Scot, which measures just over 12-feet long and weighs 1,600 pounds, was pinged in the Gulf of Mexico west of Naples, according to OCEARCH, the non-profit marine group.

Scot is the 74th great white shark tagged and released by the group in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean, OCEARCH said. They fit each animal with an electronic tracker that pings whenever it breaks the ocean surface.

The tracker's records show Scot is a dedicated traveler. He was first tagged in September of 2021 in Nova Scotia -- where he was named in honor of the "welcoming and ocean first dedicated people" there by OCEARCH's partners at Sea World.

Scot then traveled a total of 3,910 miles down the East Coast in just 119 days. He has been relaxing around the Florida Keys and Gulf Coast since at least Valentine's Day, according to OCEARCH data.

Sharks typically move towards the shore during the spring and summer, making April and October the months of highest shark activity.

The waters around Florida are home to more than 13 shark species, according to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission.

Shark attacks in Florida are very rare, the commission said. Humans are 30 times more likely to be struck by lightning in the state than to be bitten by a shark, and fewer than 10 people die from shark attacks each year, they said.

Both OCEARCH and the commission emphasize the great white shark's crucial role as the apex predator in its ecosystem.

"Great white sharks are central to the functioning of ecosystems and the maintenance of biodiversity," says OCEARCH.

They are classified as a vulnerable population by the World Wildlife Fund, just one step away from endangered.

(©2022 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. Cable News Network, Inc., a Time Warner Company, contributed to this report.)

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