We are all familiar with the great white sharks as adults. However, very little is known about the first year of their lives—until now.
It has been suspected that great white sharks spend the first year of their lives at the New York Bight along the Atlantic coast of the United States. Researchers from several institutions sought to shed some light on the subject.
In August 2015 and 2016, they tagged 10 baby white sharks with satellite and acoustic tags off Long Island's coast, monitoring their movements and habitat use through bathymetry, sea surface temperature and distance from the shore. This is the first study that tracks the movement patterns and seasonal migrations of baby white sharks in the north Atlantic during the first year of their lives.
Through this research, the team was able to confirm that the New York Bight, with focal areas along the southeastern shores of Long Island served as a primary nursery and possibly refuge for young white sharks from August to October (late summer to early fall).
Then, in the late fall, the sharks made their way southwards, to a habitat off North and South Carolina's shelf waters. By December, all the sharks were found off the Carolinas, with a focal area off the Outer Banks north of Cape Hatteras. Then, in spring, some sharks returned to the New York Bight.
Although the 10 sharks were tracked for an average of 111 days, the battery life of the acoustic tags is expected to last up to 10 years, and possesses a sustained acoustic monitoring infrastructure along the US east coast, according to research coordinator Mike McCallister at Florida Atlantic University's Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute.
He added, “This important technology will provide us with the opportunity to observe changes in white shark distribution, habitat use, and migration over the life span of this species from infant to large juvenile age classes."
The findings of this research, published in the Scientific Reports journal, now provide valuable insight into the distribution patterns of the species during this early part of their lives.