A group of Hawaii-based scientists and biologists filmed a shark matching Deep Blue's description several miles off the coast of Waikiki. Footage from that January encounter is featured in the National Geographic SharkFest special "World's Biggest Great White?" on Sunday, July 21, at 8 p.m. ET | 7 p.m. CT.
The underwater footage shot by photographer Mark Mohler showed marine biologist Andrew Gray and fellow photographer Kimberly Jeffries swimming just feet from Deep Blue, cameras in hand as they captured rare footage of the creature.
"I was thinking, 'What in the world is this?' Because it was way bigger than any shark I'd expect," Gray said of the encounter.
Deep Blue is estimated to measure a staggering 20 feet long and is likely still growing by several millimeters each year. It's thought that she could be more than 50 years old.
Based on the appearance of the shark's stomach, the crew also posited she could be pregnant -- though the sumptuous sperm whale feast could also be responsible for her enlarged stomach.
"We had [identification] shots and video and it was more than enough to present to at least the scientific community for identification," Jeffries explained, adding that authorities agreed that the massive shark pictured was likely Deep Blue.
In total, the crew spent three days observing Deep Blue and other mature female great whites who dropped by to feed on the whale carcass. Jeffries told National Geographic that wind and water conditions were perfect for shooting crystal-clear footage of the sharks.
It's not the first time Deep Blue has been caught on camera. The massive shark swam into the internet spotlight several years ago when a film crew spotted her during a Shark Week shoot off Mexico's Guadalupe Island. In video later shared widely on social media, the gargantuan creature swam up to the crew's dive cage and poked around curiously before disappearing back into the blue.
Around the same time that Gray, Mohler, Jeffries and their colleagues spotted Deep Blue earlier this year, a separate group also spotted what appeared to be the same shark off the Hawaiian coast. That Jan. 15 encounter took place off Oahu's North Shore and also involved tiger sharks feeding on a whale carcass, according to local media reports.
While Deep Blue's theoretical journey from Guadalupe Island to Hawaii might seem like a long way for a shark to travel, the creatures have been known to traverse entire oceans. Scientists in the early 2000s tracked one great white's 12,400-mile journey from South Africa to Western Australia and back.
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