Ocearch, an ocean organization conducting marine research, has made an amazing discovery: a nursery and possibly even birthing site of great white sharks. And it’s right in the North Atlantic, near Montauk in Long Island.
Chris Fischer, the founder and chairperson of Ocearch, told CBS News that the find was confirmed as a nursery. He says it is “probably the most significant discovery we’ve ever made on the ocean.”
Concrete evidence on where great white sharks give birth and raise their offspring in the North Atlantic can provide valuable information to help conservation efforts of these iconic sea animals. Fischer says where sharks give birth is where they’re also most vulnerable.
Harley Newton, a veterinary pathologist with Ocearch, says,
This is a really unique population of animals. I mean it’s a life stage that really hasn’t been studied very much.
She adds that for all of the fears regarding sharks, in truth, there is a lack of information on them.
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature describes great whites as a “vulnerable” species.
Fischer calls the birthing site, “the Holy Grail of the research.”
The organization tracks great white sharks by tagging dorsal fins. When the sharks surface, they ping a satellite. This summer, Ocearch was able to tag several sharks, including a 42-pound male they named Hampton and a 50-pound female called Montauk, both young. Researchers also collect blood and tissue samples, get measurements, and determine the gender of the sharks.
The Ocearch team will look into whether any of the sharks at the Long Island location are offspring of great whites they had first tagged off Cape Cod.
Ocearch’s website has a feature that lets people track the sharks. Recently, both Hampton and Montauk were spotted near Long Island. Other tagged sharks are Gratitude, Gotham, and Hudson.
One of the biggest great whites the organization monitors is Mary Lee, named after Fischer’s mother. First tagged in 2012, this 16-foot-long shark weighs 3,456 pounds and has traveled over 34,000 miles since the researchers tagged her.