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  • Writer's pictureBecky Faulks

First Ever Newborn Great White Shark Spotted in the Wild

The shark was captured on drone footage and could reveal a birthing site for endangered ocean predators

 

In a huge step forward for science, the first ever newborn great white shark has been seen in the wild. The shark, which was sighted by Carlos Guana of Malibu Artists Inc, was spotted off the California coast in Santa Barbara. The discovery is an exciting one, as before now no-one has ever seen a newborn shark alive or been able to pinpoint where they breed. This could mean great things for conservation efforts, which are likely to be increased within the area.

 

 

Guana, who stresses that he is not a marine biologist, described seeing a heavily pregnant great white shark in early July 2023. He recalls seeing the shark deep dive soon before a smaller shark was seen rising to the surface. Guana co-wrote a paper on his discovery with biology doctoral student Phillip C. Sternes, in the Environmental Biology of Fishes scientific journal. He says that, although it is impossible to determine the exact age of the shark, he believes that it is a newborn.


‘I believe the highest likelihood the images in this video show a newborn shark,’ he commented, adding that there were several observations to support this. ‘The shape of the fins, especially the dorsal fin, is a major clue. The size of the shark is approximately 1.5m long, and [the paper suggests that] the white membrane-like material sloughing off is a uterine milk coating still adhered to the shark’s body.’


Other explanations for the white coating included albinism in the shark and a possible skin disorder, but these are considered unlikely. The dorsal fin in particular exactly matches existing images of deceased neonates (newborns) already on record. In conclusion, the paper by Guana and Sternes states that, although white sharks are highly protected off California, accidental catches by fisherman still occur, which results in some individuals sustaining life-threatening injuries. The discovery by the drone footage indicates that stricter management may be required to protect the area and the entire coastline extending down to Baja, California should be included if the sharks are to be given the best chance.

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