Great White Sharks in the Florida Keys

Most associate Great White Sharks with the waters of New England and California. There have long been stories from local Charter Captains of close encounters with Great Whites in the Florida Keys. These stories usually stayed within the local fishing docks and were not known widely.

With the more recent availability of digital cameras aboard the boats and social networks to spread the news, the encounters have been better documented and more have seen them.

A few years ago an organization called OCEARCH began live capturing, taking samples and tagging large sharks, concentrating on Great White Sharks. The tags allow tracking with satellites each time the shark surfaces. A SPOT tag (a real-time satellite tag) is mounted on the shark’s dorsal fin, providing up to 5 years of tracking. This tag transmits the shark’s location via satellite – whenever the shark’s fin breaks the surface – and that location is sent to OCEARCH.The SPOT tag wet/dry switch needs to be dry for a minimum of 90 seconds during which 3 consecutive pings must occur to get an accurate geo-position.

The public can follow the Great White Sharks through the OCEARCH website.

The tracking has revealed amazing travels previously unknown about these largest predatory sharks. It also has provided evidence of their travels through the Florida Keys. Note: Although we are just recently being made aware of their travels through Florida Keys waters, they most certainly have always been around. Millions of divers visit the Florida Keys and have been for decades without any known attacks. 

A 12-foot-long, 1,326 lb. male great white shark named Hilton pinged northwest of Key West at 11:25 a.m. on May 3.

Species: White Shark (Carcharodon carcharias)

Gender: Male

Stage of Life: Mature

Length: 12 ft. 5 in. (3.7 meters)

Weight: 1326 lbs

Tag Date: Mar 03, 2017

Tag Location: Hilton Head, SC

Share link:

72 hours travel: 7.720 miles

Total travel: 10,544.970 miles


Hilton was caught off the coast of Hilton Head, SC during the Lowcountry Expedition. Hilton was named after the local community who has graciously welcomed us.

Great White Sharks Hilton tracking near the Florida Keys