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Growing Great White Sharks Population: Species Not Endangered, “Optimistic Outlook” After 40 Years Of U.S. Federal Protections For Marine Mammals

Travelers Today       By    Althea Serad

Updated: Jun 23, 2014 09:57 AM EDT

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Growing great white sharks population in the Pacific news is making headlines not just in the science community but in the world of animal conservation groups as well. As such, the "good news" is indeed something to gloss over as 40 Years of U.S. Federal Protections for marine mammals seems to be finally paying off.

According to a new study, the growing great white sharks population in the Atlantic Coast is thanks to conservation measures which began in the 1990s. The project was to help save great white shark species from depleting completely.

Reuters reports that there is a research being conducted which researches on the population of great white sharks in the eastern north part of the Pacific Ocean. Surprisingly, what the international research team found is the growing great white sharks population in the Atlantic Coast.

The growing great white sharks population findings have been presented in a study published this month in the PLOS ONE online journal by scientists for the National Marine Fisheries Service.

According to George Burgess, director of the Florida Program for Shark Research, who led the new study published Monday in the journal PLOS ONE, 'The good news is that white sharks are returning to levels of abundance.' Burgess estimates the growing great white sharks population along the California coast to be at more than 2,000 and likely rising.

The findings on the new study of growing great white sharks population has overturned the previous impression that the population of the species is alarmingly low. The previous data on low number of the population of the great white sharks has been gathered by a 2011 Stanford University study.

Burgess said he and other shark experts "did a double take" when the Stanford researchers estimated the adult population of great whites along the central California coast was at 219.

Burgess said the Stanford researchers simply made assumptions about the decrease in white shark population and only counted those feeding off seals and sea lions at Farallon Islands and Tomales Point. Burgess said they should have considered sharks which fed elsewhere and growing great white sharks population from juvenile sharks.

Because of the 2011 study, petitions by conservationists have been raised to add white sharks to state and federal endangered lists. The findings were reportedly based on data from 200 years ago of fishermen's logs and newspaper clippings which recorded sightings of the mammals.


Scientists conjectured the decline of the population was due to a growing commercial shark fishing industry. The industry uses shark fins and jaws in food and folk medicine.


Great whites are reportedly the largest among its species. The predatory, big-toothed and flesh-eating fish can grow as long as 20 feet long, which is about 6.1 meters.

Burgess said that the growing great white sharks population may most likely be a result of 40 years of U.S. federal protections for marine mammals. The federal protection includes sharks, especially sea lions and seals. In addition to the protection, white sharks have also reportedly been protected as a prohibited species, making it illegal to bring a great white to port.

He said that the preview of their team's study on the growing great white sharks population was given to state and federal authorities. It reportedly included decisions to just maintain the level of protection to great whites rather than step it up. Listing the species as no longer endangered is important in order to conserve resources for species that do need help.

Burgess said, 'This is a real pleasure for us in the biology business to be talking about because it's a success story.'

Despite the results of the growing great white sharks population study, Tobey Curtis, one of the government scientists who worked on the study also told Reuters that their team could only obtain the trends in shark abundance and not the total number of sharks in the Atlantic's northwest region. He said, 'We don't know what portion of the total population we're documenting.'

Growing great white sharks population findings, said Curtis, still suggests an "optimistic outlook" for the recovery of the ocean's apex predator and one of the largest fish in the oceans. 

See Now: The U.S. had the highest number of Most Wanted properties, dominating the Hotels.com Loved By Guests Awards 2018

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