Great white shark population booming

"Population declines appear to have been halted and populations may now be stabilized or growing in several regions," scientists say.
By Brooks Hays  |  June 20, 2014 at 1:42 PM
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GAINESVILLE, Fla., June 20 (UPI) -- After great white shark numbers stagnated and then dwindled in the western Atlantic for several decades, scientists say the impressive predator has rebounded dramatically off the eastern coasts of the U.S. and Canada.

In a study published this week in PLOS ONE, scientists with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration undertook a comprehensive survey and analysis of the "largest white shark dataset yet compiled from this region."

The analysis has offered a better picture of where and when great whites tend to feed and how they migrate -- as well as their population growth.

The major conclusion: conservation efforts have helped the great white shark.

"There is growing evidence that legal protections for white sharks in the NWA and elsewhere around the world have been effective," the scientists wrote. "Population declines appear to have been halted and populations may now be stabilized or growing in several regions."

Scientists say that relative health of the great white is a positive sign for the overall health of the marine ecosystems of the northwest Atlantic.

A separate study -- also published in PLOS ONE and carried out by scientists with NOAA and the University of Florida -- came to similar conclusions in the Pacific.

"We determined there were enough animals that there was a low to very low risk of extinction, and in fact, most developments suggest an increasing population," explained Heidi Dewar, a fisheries research biologist with NOAA's National Marine Fisheries Service.

"That we found these sharks are doing OK, better than OK, is a real positive in light of the fact that other shark populations are not necessarily doing as well," added George Burgess, director of the Florida Program for Shark Research.

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