Saturday, October 21, 2006

Great White sharks are great travellers

A great white shark is back along the Central Coast after deep ocean travels as far as Hawaii.
Sean Van Sommeran, executive director of the Pelagic Shark Research Foundation, said satellite tracking devices picked up the shark off Ano Nuevo Island in San Mateo County near the Santa Cruz County line.

Foundation researchers attached 18 satellite transmitters to white sharks from September 2005 to January 2006.

Scientists hope to recover the tracker from the shark "so we can get higher-resolution data -- and, they're expensive," Van Sommeran said.

Three more tagged sharks are expected off Ano Nuevo in the next week.

White sharks were once thought to be coastal dwellers, preying on seals, sea lions and other mammals, but the satellite tracking has shown that they are far-ranging, deep-diving, open-ocean fish, Van Sommeran said.

The giant sharks are important predators in the ocean food chain and they are at risk from fin and trophy hunters, Van Sommeran said. Mapping migratory routes will be necessary to develop a management plan to regulate the shark fishery.


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