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Baby shark! Researchers may have captured first image of newborn great white | Sharks

California researchers may have seen a newborn great white shark for the first time in drone images taken last summer.

This newborn animal has never been seen in the wild. But in July, wildlife filmmaker Carlos Gauna and University of California, Riverside biology doctoral student Philip Stearns caught a glimpse of something unexpected in the waters near Santa Barbara on California’s central coast. .

Gauna’s drone camera captured what appeared to be a pure white baby great white shark, about 5 feet long. Sharks are white on the underside and gray on top, making them an unusual color.

“We zoomed in on the image, put it in slow motion, and noticed that the white layer was peeling off its body as it swam,” Stearns said. university statement. “I believe it was a great white shark that had just shed its embryonic layer.”

Stearns and Gauna have been photographing sharks around the world in YouTube videos that have been viewed millions of times, and compiled their findings into an article published this week in the Fish Journal Environmental Biology.

In the article, the pair acknowledge that the thin white membrane covering the shark could have been the result of a skin disease, but say they believe it was a newborn great white. They wrote that the animal they saw was in the size range of a newborn shark, and its appearance resembled a soon-to-be-born fetus.

Gauna said he had previously observed a large great white shark in the area that appeared to be pregnant, and that the newborn appeared within the time frame for the baby to be born. In a statement from the university, he called the discovery “one of the holy grails of shark science.” No one has been able to determine exactly where the sharks were born, and no one has ever seen a newborn baby shark alive. ”

They suspect the animals they recorded were days or hours old.

“There’s a lot of room for hypothesis, but despite the intense interest in these sharks, no one has ever seen them give birth or see newborn pups in the wild,” Stearns says. “This could be the first evidence of a pup in the wild, and this could be the definitive birthing site.”

Experts in the field largely praised the findings in their comments. CNNcalled this observation “very important.”

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