This past summer several shark advocacy agencies submitted petitions to the National Marine Fisheries Service and the California Fish and Game Commission to list the West Coast population of great white sharks under the Endangered Species Act. NMFS has deemed it appropriate to implement a detailed study of the population over the next nine months to determine whether the West Coast great whites will be listed as endangered at the federal level.
Recent research shows that great white sharks off the coast of California and Mexico are genetically different from other populations of great whites. Their adult population is low enough to point toward extinction if nothing changes. Though the capture of these sharks is generally prohibited, they are often the victims of gillnets targeting other species of sea life. Many of the young great whites are found to have the highest level of contaminants of all shark species. Listing under the ESA would greater protect these animals from their largest threats and stimulate more funding for research. As the top predators, it is essential that we protect these great white sharks to maintain the balance and diversity in our coastal ecosystems.
The conservation groups, including Oceana, The Center for Biological Diversity, Shark Stewards, and Wild Earth Guardians, commend the NMFS and their decision to pursue the great white shark protection. Great white sharks are now that much closer to a chance for protection as endangered species.
Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons -- Brocken Inaglory