A Great White Shark Nursery May Be Located Off The New Jersey Coastline

Researchers have asserted that a nursery for young great white sharks may exist just off the New Jersey coastline, and recent encounters suggest that the number of sharks in the region may be increasing.

Earlier this month, a four-foot-long juvenile white shark was caught just nine miles northeast of the Sandy Hook tip, inside the New York bight, according to USA Today. The area, which extends from Cape May to Montauk Point on Long Island, has been poorly researched, but long thought to be a shark nursery. The idea that white sharks were breeding in the region was first suggested in the 1960s, according to Marie Levine, executive director of the Shark Research Institute in Princeton.

“It was Jack Casey, then working at Sandy Hook Marine Labs, who discovered the white shark nursery back in the 1960s when he caught neonates. The pups still had umbilical scars,” she observed.

The white shark caught earlier this month was a female, likely just a few months old. Its lack of umbilical scars meant that it was not a newborn, according to researchers.

Juvenile white sharks are known to spend their summers in a closely localized area before migrating to warmer waters over the winter. Though the population of Atlantic white sharks declined markedly in the 1970s and 1980s, as the Asbury Park Press reports, the species has seen a dramatic resurgence since the 1990s, when conservation measures went into effect. Since then, local fishermen have been steadily reporting more and more sightings of the sharks.

“No one knows how many white sharks currently live off the East Coast, but anecdotal evidence strongly suggests the number of white sharks is increasing,” said Michael L. Domeier, president of the Marine Conservation Science Institute.

Earlier this year, New Jersey residents excitedly followed the progress of Mary Lee, a large white shark that was tagged by the non-profit group Ocearch as she moved into local waters. Swimming northward, Mary Lee reached the southern coast of Long Island before turning south once again, as the Inquisitr previously reported.

In recent years, a growing number of white sharks have frequented the waters off Cape Cod in the summer months, drawn there by a resurgent seal population. Researchers have pointed out that the great whites off the cape may be responsible for the nursery near New Jersey, but further study of the white sharks needs to be conducted before a firm link is established.

[Photo by Ryan Pierse / Getty Images]