When Newcastle beaches faced record closures earlier this month due to the presence of an exceptionally large great white shark, researchers were surprised to see the predator linger in the area. Now, however, one scientist has confirmed that the region represents an ideal nursery for juvenile white sharks.
CSIRO shark researcher Barry Bruce asserted that current conditions north of Newcastle make the area a perfect habitat for young great whites, according to the Daily Telegraph. The region has long had a reputation as a nursery for the sharks, and at any one time, as many as 250 juvenile great whites populate the area. The sharks often measure less than three meters, however, and are unlikely to present a danger to beachgoers, as they are still developing.
Shark spotted at Manly and Queenscliff. Hope it’s not the Newcastle Great White. pic.twitter.com/DH0rf4OHbC
— julie cross (@juliejourno) January 18, 2015
The East Australian Current delivers nutrient-rich water to the Newcastle area, according to Dr. Bruce, drawing in the fish that in turn attract white sharks.
“Sharks are most common in the area from spring through to mid-summer and are usually focused on the near-shore,” he related. “Juvenile white sharks are much less common outside this area and are generally transiting north or south from it… The footprint of the nursery area varies slightly from year to year.”
Though the population of juvenile sharks is significant, Dr. Bruce pointed out that there are no newborn great whites present in the region. Most of the sharks are thought to be between 2 and 6-years-old, and evidence suggests that they are born in an area around Bass Strait, before moving into the nursery.
— Yahoo (@Yahoo) January 16, 2015
Dr. David Powter, a marine ecologist with the University of Newcastle, noted that while juvenile white sharks are capable of attacking humans, they are unlikely to do so.
“Their teeth and jaw structures haven’t developed to a stage where they are capable of consuming large prey like seals and dolphins,” he asserted.
— Anthony Butler (@ytones) January 18, 2015
Earlier this month, a large shark, of an unidentified species, was filmed preying on dolphins near Newcastle. As the Inquisitr previously reported, several dolphin carcasses washed ashore, exhibiting bite marks indicative of large sharks.
Newcastle’s beaches were closed for a record period of time amid the sightings, as the Guardian relates. Several large sharks were reported in the area, including the great white, which some locals nicknamed Bruce.
[Image: George Trinkler via the Daily Telegraph ]