Great White Shark Cafe

Tuesday, May 29, 2018 by Jessica

Scientists have a lot left to learn about great white sharks, but one of their biggest questions lies in why a large group of sharks were gathering together more than 1,000 miles off of the coast of California to water without many nutrients in it. These ocean giants travel away from their food sources, sea lions and elephant seals, along the coast of California and head to what is considered to be an ocean desert, or a place in the ocean that has very little life. To try to figure out what these sharks could be doing, scientists tagged over 30 of them last fall so they could see where they were moving and when. As spring has approached, scientists have taken off in a research vessel to head out to the great white shark café to try and understand what the sharks are doing in this area of the ocean.

As the researchers entered this area, they gathered the tags that they had previously placed on the sharks to better understand at what depths they were traveling to, and the conditions of the area, such as temperature, salinity, and pressure. So far, the scientists have still not figured out why the animals want to head to this part of the ocean and what they are doing there, but there data has left them with more questions. Male sharks move up and down the water column rapidly, sometimes 120 times in one day, whereas females will travel to the shallow water at night and then spend time in the deeper water during the day. Researchers now wonder if this place is important for great white shark breeding, or if the two sexes are simply feeding differently than one another. Another thing that scientists have found out about this area is that it is not a desert, but that there are actually a lot of plants that live in the ocean that lead to an entire food chain of animals that live there. The fact that scientists didn’t know that this area of high biodiversity existed in the ocean until sharks led us to it speaks to how much we still have to learn about the ocean.

Are there any questions that you have about the ocean? Do you have any guesses that these sharks could be doing in this area?

Great White Shark Cafe

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