Probable Great White Shark Nursery Discovered off Long Island

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OCHEARCH, an ocean research organization, has discovered a Great White nursery/birthing site in the North Atlantic, off the coast of Montauk, Long Island.

Chris Fischer, the founding chairman of Ocearch (the organization behind the development) told CBS News that they had “definitely [found]the nursery, likely the birthing site.”  The find is “probably the most significant discovery we’ve ever made on the ocean,” Fischer added.

Locating sites where North Atlantic great white sharks give birth and raise their young in the North Atlantic can lead to better efforts to protect and better understand these apex predators.  Great White sharks are described as “vulnerable.”  A vulnerable species is one which has been categorized by the International Union for Conservation of Nature as likely to become endangered, unless the circumstances threatening its survival and reproduction improve.

The birthing site is “the holy grail of the research,” Fischer told CBS, which reported the discovery.

Ocearch tracks great white sharks by line catching them from a center console fishing boat and then transferring them to the M/V OCEARCH Research.The M/V OCEARCH, which serves as an at-sea laboratory, has a 75,000 lb. capacity hydraulic platform designed to safely lift mature sharks out of the ocean for access by a multi-disciplined research team. The team is able to conduct 12 studies in 15 minutes. During part of the study, process researchers collected blood and tissue samples, measured them, and determined their sex. Over 80 researchers, from more than 40 institutions, have partnered with OCEARCH.  When the sharks surface, a transmitter in the tag pings a satellite to show their whereabouts. This summer, OCEARCH tagged several sharks, among them a 42-pound male named Hampton and a 50-pound female named Montauk. Both Great White sharks were tagged in August, and both are immature.

The OCEARCH website allows the public to follow the location of the various sharks they have tagged.  In addition to the sharks already in the system, the organization also recently tagged additional sharks named Gotham, Gratitude, and Hudson.  They have also begun tagging and studying Tiger Sharks in a similar fashion.

Mary Lee - named after Fischer's mother was tagged in 2012.

Mary Lee – named after Fischer’s mother was tagged in 2012.

Mary Lee, another well-known Great White shark the organization tracks, was first tagged on September 17, 2012. Mary Lee, weighing 3,456 pounds and recorded at 16 feet long, has traveled over 34,000 miles according to her profile on Ocearch. Recently, she pinged in off the coast of the Carolinas.  To track various sharks visit the non-profit OCEARCH website.  

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