Scientists from Ocearch just discovered a sizable swarm of baby great white sharks by Montauk, New York. The team says this marks the most significant discovery in the history of the organization, according to an interview with CBS News. The scientists call birthing sites the holy grail of research, where sharks of all ages congregate and remain easily accessible to researchers.
Scientists have had their eye on the region since they recaptured a female shark called Mary Lee last spring. Their strategy was to follow large females in the hope that they would return to breed. And it paid off. The sharks likely congregate in these well-known waters because of bountiful fish and shallow waters — easy hunting grounds for newborn pups, according to the New York Times.
The adult sharks feed on seals by Cape Cod and return to Montauk to bear young. Great white sharks can give birth to anywhere between two and 10 pups in a litter. Pups stay in the area for many, many years until they reach adulthood at around the same time we do: 20 years. While not as long-lived as the Greenland sharks, great whites can reach an impressive 70 years.
Osearch has tagged nine juvenile great white sharks in the last two weeks, making their identification of Montauk as the birthing site a very safe guess. “We've learned a lot about the adult sharks in recent years, but the pups are still a complete mystery,” National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration scientist Tobey Curtis says in a press release. “Tagging these baby white sharks will help us better understand how essential Long Island waters are for their survival.”
Osearch will continue to sample blood, fins, parasites and muscle of the sharks they capture to learn more about the health of the population. The more they know, the more scientists will be able to do to continue protecting these ferocious giants of the sea, starting from the day they emerge from the womb as adorable little baby apex predators.
Watch the Ocearch team in action tagging sharks in the video below.
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