As a drone rises from the rugged cliffs of the Southern California coast, its camera lens poised to capture the secrets of the vast Pacific Ocean below, the video footage that unfolds appears serene and unassuming at first. Ta. The keen perspective of a drone hovering above the azure land revealed only endless waves lapping rhythmically towards the shore. A few minutes passed, and soon we could see surfers gliding gracefully over the crests of the waves. Soon, a pod of playful dolphins appeared, their sleek forms breaching the surface of the water with effortless grace. Then, as if summoned by the mysticism of the sea, a strange sight appeared. It’s a big great white shark.carcharodon carcharius), moving erratically underwater before diving beyond the drone’s perspective. After a while…a small great white shark appeared.
A very small great white shark.
In this fleeting moment, the drone witnessed something the world of shark science has been chasing for decades.
The scene described above is similar to one experienced by wildlife filmmaker Carlos Guana last July. “While photographing great white sharks for the umpteenth time, I came across a very strange-looking great white shark. This small shark was literally all white.” Gauna, also known as a Malibu artist, explains:. “There are a lot of great white shark farms in Southern California, but this wasn’t exactly one farm. I’ve observed a few anecdotes over the years that quickly became trends. It was a particular place that was becoming. [three] Over the past few years, localized clusters of very large white sharks that appear to be pregnant have been observed for short periods of time. I use the word “likely” because the only way to check this is through means I don’t have access to. However, based on the countless observations I have made of sharks of all sizes, including pregnant sharks, I have deduced that some of these sharks are indeed pregnant. ”
But on this particular day, we saw one large shark. “It disappeared beyond the visual depth after some erratic and unexpected movements. Shortly thereafter, this small, all-white great white shark appeared. It was unlike anything I had ever seen before.” Published in the peer-reviewed journal Environmental Biology of Fishes“This was completely unlike anything we’d seen before,” said study co-author Philip Stearns, an organismal biologist at the University of California, Riverside. “It was exhilarating.” The researchers believe this could be the first ever sighting of a newborn great white shark in the wild.
“What’s important is the shape and size of the fins, specifically the dorsal fin. There’s no question that this is a very young great white shark,” Gauna says. “The problem is that no one has ever seen an individual this young before, and this is very likely the youngest survivor ever. Note the white material. Our paper suggests that this is the white lining of the uterine milk covering the shark. In the extended footage, you can see that the shark’s color has visibly darkened and the layers have peeled off. .”
Great white sharks are notoriously elusive and have baffled scientists for decades. Their reproduction is of particular interest. Unlike many other marine species, these sharks do not breed in captivity, making it difficult to study their reproductive behavior up close. Because it is difficult to observe these apex predators in their natural habitat, no one has ever witnessed these sharks mating, much less giving birth. However, through various observations and studies, researchers have pieced together some insights into the reproductive biology of great white sharks. Great white sharks are ovoviviparous (better known as “placental viviparous”), meaning their embryos develop inside eggs inside their mothers, who then give birth to live offspring. Great white shark mating is thought to occur through a complex courtship ritual, but the details of this behavior are poorly documented. After mating, female great white sharks undergo a gestation period that is estimated to last approximately 12 months, but precise data on gestation length are limited. Pregnant female great white sharks are thought to migrate to specific nursery areas, possibly in shallow coastal waters, to give birth to their young.
Although the birthing process itself remains largely invisible, researchers sometimes encounter newborn great white sharks in the wild. But never this small. “Observations of newborn great white sharks swimming freely are extremely rare,” said Toby Curtis, a shark scientist at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration who was not involved in the study. told science. “[It’s] It is almost impossible to be in the exact place at the exact time to observe and record the moment of birth. ” So could this be a moment when someone could have been in the right place at the right time? Scientists who analyzed the footage say the shark’s small size and rounded fins suggest it was probably just a few hours old. There is a high possibility that the baby is a newborn.
Still, skepticism persists. Gavin Naylor, director of the Florida Shark Research Program, cautioned against the speculative nature of the discovery. “Great white sharks typically give birth to eight to 12 pups at a time, but where are the others?” said Naylor, who was not involved in the study. told CNN. There may be other explanations for the shark’s appearance. The exact origin of the milky substance surrounding the shark remains debated, and Professor Stearns speculates that the unusual coloration may have been caused by a skin condition.
Still, the implications of this discovery are reverberating throughout the scientific community. The importance of identifying great white shark breeding habitats is crucial for great white shark conservation efforts, and this discovery is an important step toward unraveling the mysteries of great white shark breeding.
“The sample size for our observations is only one, so more work and observations will be needed,” the researchers said. “Nevertheless, in both cases, the use of aerial drones provided other interesting information to shark science.”