Great white sharks enjoying comeback in Pacific Ocean
By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
6/18/2014 (2 years ago)
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)
The news is welcome for marine biologists, but may be ominous for some vacationers this summer. Great white sharks, the never-stopping eating machines of the seas, are enjoying a strong comeback. Experts say that in the eastern north part of the Pacific Ocean, the sharks is now more likely growing rather than endangered.
The news is welcome for marine biologists, but may be ominous for some vacationers this summer.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - "The good news is that white sharks are returning to levels of abundance," George Burgess, director of the Florida Program for Shark Research says. Burgess led the new study, which was published earlier this week.
The recent findings are in stark contrast to the alarming low numbers left by a 2011 Stanford University study. The results from that survey led to petitions by conservationists to add white sharks to state and federal endangered lists, Burgess said.
"We stand firmly behind the findings of our study, and our ongoing research only increases our confidence in its accuracy," Stanford researcher Barbara Block said in an emailed statement.
Great whites are the largest of the predatory big-toothed, flesh-eating sharks, growing as big as 20 feet long.
The growth in sharks, Burgess says is the result of 40 years of U.S. federal protections for marine mammals that sharks feed on, especially sea lions and seals. White sharks have also been protected as a prohibited species, making it illegal to bring a great white to dock.
Shark experts reportedly "did a double take" when the Stanford researchers calculated the population of adult and near-adult great whites along the central California coast at 219.
Burgess' group of 10 international shark scientists set out to test the Stanford data and methods. The group pegged the entire population of white sharks along the whole California coast at more than 2,000 and likely rising.
Stanford researchers, Burgess said, made assumptions about the white shark population from those feeding off seals and sea lions at Farallon Islands and Tomales Point. Scientists should have taken into account sharks that feed elsewhere and for juvenile sharks, whose numbers appear to be growing.
The Stanford study also made comparisons between the low number of sharks and the greater numbers of killer whales and polar bears. That comparison was misleading given the greater ease of counting whales, which must surface for air, and bears on land, Burgess says.
"This is a real pleasure for us in the biology business to be talking about because it's a success story," Burgess said.
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