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Scientists Learn to Better Predict Shark Migration
The new research can help beachgoers be aware of possible sightings.
LONG BEACH, Calif. (May 8, 2019) – Little is known about white sharks and their migration but, thanks to Long Beach State University researchers, there is a now a way to better predict this apex predator’s migratory habits.
“This study was a culmination of eight years of expensive field work and collaborative data collection and shows the value of using this technology to predict where juvenile white sharks might show up in the future under changing ocean conditions,” said Long Beach State Shark Lab Director Chris Lowe.
According to a study featuring the work of Long Beach State University scientists published today in PLOS ONE, during El Niño years when winter ocean waters are warmer, juvenile white sharks do not migrate south to Baja Mexico and might instead frequent Southern California beaches or move up toward Monterey Bay.
“Over time, you can predict where you can expect to see sharks in Southern California and in other parts of the world,” said Connor White, the study’s lead author who performed the research while a graduate student at Long Beach State.
The research will help beachgoers and conservationists better understand when juvenile white sharks inhabit Southern California waters to prey on rays and fish near the coastline. It could also reduce the number of white sharks accidentally caught by fisheries.
As part of the study, researchers partnered with gillnet fishers who would keep incidentally-caught white sharks alive in large fish totes supplied with flowing seawater. The animals were then tagged and released back into the water. The Monterey Bay Aquarium displayed two of the juvenile white sharks before releasing the animals into the ocean, where researchers continued to track their movements.
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