HONOLULU - Divers off Hawaii were stunned this week to see a massive great white shark that hadn't been seen in years.
At nearly 20 feet long and weighing 2.5 tons, Deep Blue is one of the largest great white sharks ever recorded.
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Deep Blue was spotted by divers who were filming tiger sharks in the area. The great white was feeding on a dead sperm whale about eight miles south of Pearl Harbor.
Ocean Ramsey, one of the divers working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, said Deep Blue was so wide, she believes the shark is pregnant, according to the Honolulu Star Advertiser.
"She was just this big beautiful gentle giant wanting to use our boat as a scratching post," said Ramsey, who posted images of the encounter. "We went out at sunrise, and she stayed with us pretty much throughout the day."
Ramsey studies sharks, advocates for their conservation and leads cage-free shark diving tours. Ramsey and her team observe and identify sharks and share that data with state and federal partners.
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Ramsey and other divers were able to swim next to the great white, but warned boaters and other divers to stay away from the dead sperm whale site due to safety issues.
The Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources Chief Jason Redull, said people should stay out of the water around the dead whale.
"We don't want anyone to get hurt if a shark swimming around the carcass mistakes them as food. Understandably, some people want to get into the water either out of fascination or to get photographs, but it is truly dangerous to be around this carcass with so much shark activity," he said.
The agency said there are reports people climbed on top of the whale carcass and removed its teeth, which may be a violation of state and federal laws.
Hawaii waters are usually too warm for great whites compared with California's Pacific coast, where they feed on sea lions and elephant seals, Ramsey said.
The giant white might have headed to Hawaii because of hunger and a need for extra nutrients in pregnancy, Ramsey said.
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