The first sighting of a newborn great white shark has been revealed in a new image showing a five-foot-long, all-white predator swimming off the coast of California.
The newborn great white shark was reportedly only hours old when scientists spotted it just 1,000 feet off the beach in Santa Barbara.
Researchers at the University of California – Riverside took the amazing photo and revealed that the newborn was shedding its embryonic layer.
Where great white sharks give birth has always been a mystery, as scientists have been unable to pinpoint their location, but on July 9, 2023, luck smiled on two filmmakers scanning the area for sharks.
A newborn great white shark believed to be only hours old was filmed off the coast of Santa Barbara, California in 2023
“Where great white sharks give birth is one of the holy grails of shark science,” said wildlife filmmaker Carols Gauna, who took the photos with UC Riverside PhD student Phillip Sternes.
‘No one has ever been able to determine where they were born, and no one has ever seen a newborn baby shark alive.
‘Dead white sharks have been found in deceased pregnant mothers. But nothing like this.’
Gauna has observed the coast of Santa Barbara for years and may have filmed pregnant great white sharks, but while the area has been suggested as a possible birth site, this is the first time there has been evidence.
The two filmmakers acknowledged that the shark’s shedding could be a skin condition, but they don’t believe it is because it hasn’t been reported for this type of shark before.
“If that’s what we saw, then it’s also monumental because there’s never been such a condition reported for these sharks,” Gauna said.
However, the filmmakers believe that the puppy could have shed embryonic fluid, which is more likely because it is only a few hours old.
Gauna said he saw three pregnant great white sharks in the area in the days leading up to the filming of the newborn pup.
“In the previous days, I filmed three very large sharks that looked pregnant in this particular location,” Gauna said.
‘On this day one of them dived, and not long after, this all-white shark appeared.
‘It’s not a stretch to deduce where the baby is coming from.
“This may be the first evidence we have of a pup in the wild, making it a definitive birthplace.”
If the location is indeed a breeding ground, action may be necessary to preserve and protect the species, which was listed as endangered internationally in 2006.
Great white sharks live worldwide, but their species are threatened by poaching and fishing.
While their population is difficult to track, the species has declined by about 80 percent in North America, prompting the US to implement laws protecting great white sharks.
Great white sharks are the most studied shark species in the world, and a report by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) revealed that two-thirds of the species are at risk of extinction.
“If we do nothing, it will be too late,” Nick Dulvy, a biologist and co-author of a 2021 study on the global decline of sharks, told CNN last year.
He added: ‘It’s much worse than other animal populations we’ve looked at.’
What makes the great white shark unique is their slow reproductive rate because they can take decades to reach breeding age, have pregnancies that last up to three years and produce small litters, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).
Since the laws were first enacted in the 1990s, the great white shark population in the Northwest Atlantic has increased and may no longer be in danger of becoming endangered in U.S. waters, NOAA reported.
Regarding the newborn great whites, Sternes said: ‘Further research is needed to confirm that these waters are indeed a great white breeding ground.
“But if that’s the case, we’d like lawmakers to step in and protect these waters to help white sharks continue to thrive.”