Long Island Could Be A Great White Shark Breeding Ground, Researchers Say

Great white sharks may be one of the most fascinating species to inhabit the oceans, but precious little is known about their life cycle, migratory patterns, and day-to-day habits. All that is changing with the advent of dedicated research, however, and a new expedition currently seeking funding is aiming to study a possible white shark breeding ground just off Long island.

When most people hear that there is a problem with great white sharks in the ocean, it’s understandable that they immediately think of attacks. Media coverage during the 20th century and the early years of the 21st generally painted great white sharks as mindless killing machines, as the Washington Post notes, seemingly bent on seeking out human victims. That incorrect perception of sharks is gradually changing, however, thanks to the efforts of conservation groups like the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy and Ocearch.

According to Chris Fischer, founder and expedition leader of Ocearch, the true problem with great white sharks is not the possibility of an attack, but rather our lack of understanding regarding the species. Speaking to the Observer, Fischer pointed out that 200,000 sharks a day, or roughly about 100 million a year, are lost to fishing and other oceanbound hazards. Given their unique role in the food chain as “balance keepers” of the seas, a continued loss of so many sharks is almost certain to impact the global ecosystem on an as yet unpredictable scale.

It is the specific areas where white sharks mate and give birth that humans should be protecting, Fischer says, though at this time very little data is available to pinpoint exactly where those regions lie. Ocearch aims to change that through their stated mission of tagging and researching great whites, as the Inquisitr has previously reported. So far, the organization has been wildly successful, donating 24 separate tagging expeditions to over 100 researchers from 59 distinct institutions. Their efforts have brought the plight of great white sharks to the attention of the masses, and now they are aiming to involve their fans in a very different way.

Ocearch’s next expedition is planned for the seas off Long Island. As Fischer notes, the area is a prime candidate for a great white shark nursery, based on data gleaned from previously tagged sharks.

“We’ve tagged five great whites on the east coast of the U.S., and based on some of their migratory patterns, we suspect Long Island, New York may be a birthing site.”

This expedition will be unique among all of Ocearch’s other endeavors though, as Fischer and his team have opted to crowdfund it. Utilizing Kickstarter, Ocearch has so far raised over $30,000 of the $150,000 needed for their vessel to set sail in New York waters for the first time. If the funds are successfully raised, Fischer and his cohorts hope to tag juvenile great whites, in an effort to better understand the exact area that serves as their nursery.

“Not only will this expedition benefit New York in terms of helping change the perception of sharks from that of fear to one of curiosity and fascination, but it will allow the rest of the world to follow along on the Global Shark Tracker and learn about sharks at the same time as our scientists. The data coming from these sharks will help us understand the ecosystem off NY and manage the area toward a balanced abundant future.”

Ocearch’s fans can support the organization’s efforts to identify a white shark nursery off Long Island through Kickstarter, or track a favorite great white shark through their website at Ocearch.org.

[Photo by Elias Levy – Own Work via Flickr | Cropped and Resized | CC BY 2.0]