Great White Shark Newborn First Ever Photograph Captured

By TeeJay Small | Published

Great white sharks are some of nature’s most fascinating and mysterious creatures, with scientists trying and failing for years to get closer to the man-eating fish for research purposes. According to recent reports from marine biologists operating out of UC Riverside, drone cameras have picked up footage of a live newborn, making the footage the very first of its kind. Great whites are incapable of breeding or surviving long periods of time in captivity, so baby sharks of this variety have never been observed under a scientific lens.

A Scientific First

Thanks to this drone footage of the newborn great white shark, researchers may be a big step closer to uncovering several everlasting mysteries about the species. For starters, discoveries such as this can help scientists gauge what conditions and locations are necessary for great whites to reproduce, as no mating or birthing grounds have ever been discovered. Dead sharks have washed ashore with embryos still inside of them at various stages of development, though no living baby sharks of this kind have ever been discovered until now.

An Enormous Newborn

The young shark was roughly 5 feet long and pure white, leading some scientists to conclude that it was still in the process of shedding its embryonic layer as it swam through the Pacific Ocean. Slowing and enlarging the video seemed to confirm this theory to scientists, who claim that layers of white can be seen slowly stripping off the shark’s back as it traverses the waves. Despite their colorful moniker, great white sharks are often characterized by their white underbellies and gray upper bodies.

The Holy Grail Of Shark Discoveries

The baby great white shark was spotted thanks to a project helmed by biology doctoral student Phillip Sternes and wildlife filmmaker Carlos Gauna, who partnered to search for the gilled creatures off the coast of Santa Barbara. Gauna has dedicated thousands of hours throughout his career to filming sharks worldwide. Still, even he was shocked by the discovery, referring to his new video as a holy grail of modern shark discoveries.

New Insight Into Shark Births

The newly discovered great white shark was accompanied by three incredibly large sharks during the days of the video shoot, according to Gauna. Per the filmmaker’s comments, one particular rotund apex predator dove deep into the water and returned sometime later with the smaller creature, prompting researchers to believe that great white births occur in the ocean floor’s depths. The baby captured on film is estimated to be between several hours or several days old at the time of filming.

Great White Sharks Are Endangered

Great white sharks are listed as an endangered species internationally, partially due to the lack of knowledge surrounding the creatures’ reproductive habits. With discoveries such as these finally shedding light on possible breeding grounds, hopefully, scientists will be able to better assist the species in maintaining calm waters during peak mating seasons. The section of ocean in which this baby shark was spotted was roughly 1,000 feet from the shoreline of Santa Barbara, which is sure to be a busy area for marine researchers in the coming months.

Source: Environmental Biology of Fishes