Marine scientists in California have reported the unprecedented sighting of a newborn great white shark in its natural habitat.
The University of California disclosed that wildlife filmmaker Carlos Gauna and Phillip Sternes, a doctoral student in biology at UC Riverside, recorded drone footage of the 5-foot-long shark pup in waters near Santa Barbara.
Unlike adult great whites, which are gray on top and white on the underside, the pup was all white.
“We enlarged the images, put them in slow motion, and realized the white layer was being shed from the body as it was swimming,” Sternes stated in a press release. “I believe it was a newborn white shark shedding its embryonic layer.”
According to the school, this was the first time a baby great white shark had been seen in the wild.
“Where white sharks give birth is one of the holy grails of shark science. No one has ever been able to pinpoint where they are born, nor has anyone seen a newborn baby shark alive,” Gauna stated. “There have been dead white sharks found inside deceased pregnant mothers. But nothing like this.”
The pair acknowledged that the shark might not have been shedding because it was a newborn but rather because of a skin ailment in an article they published in the journal Environmental Biology of Fishes.
“If that is what we saw, then that too is monumental because no such condition has ever been reported for these sharks,” Gauna stated.