WASHINGTON, June 29 (UPI) -- A yearlong study of great white sharks along the California coast has concluded the population is not in danger of extinction, a federal agency says.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration said Friday the species does not require protection under the Endangered Species Act, the Los Angeles Times reported. The agency is expected to release its full report Monday.
Three environmental groups, Oceana, Shark Stewards and the Center for Biological Diversity, petitioned last year for an endangered classification based on a 2011 study by the University of California at Davis that found only 219 adults and older juvenile sharks off central California. Other studies have found the population is healthy.
Chris Lowe, a marine biologist at California State University Long Beach, who has tracked great whites since 2002, said measures like reducing coastal water pollution and banning gill netting in-shore have led to an increase in the shark population.
"Our team felt that there were more than 200 mature females alone, an indication of a total population of at least 3,000," Heidi Dewar, a fisheries research biologist for NOAA, said.
The great white shark, which can grow to be 20 feet long, is believed to be the largest fish feeding on large animals like seals. Two larger species, the whale and basking sharks, are filter feeders that live on plankton and other small marine organisms.