First-Ever Sighting of a Live Newborn Great White
Published:17 Apr.2024    Source:University of California - Riverside

Great whites, the largest predatory sharks in the world with the most fatal attacks on humans, are tough to imagine as newborn babies. That is partially because no one has seen one in the wild, it seems, until now.


Wildlife filmmaker Carlos Gauna and UC Riverside biology doctoral student Phillip Sternes were scanning the waters for sharks on July 9, 2023, near Santa Barbara on California's central coast. It was a shark pup unlike any they'd ever seen. Great whites, referred to only as white sharks by scientists, are gray on top and white on the bottom. But this roughly 5-foot-long shark was pure white.


These observations are documented in a new paper in the Environmental Biology of Fishes journal. The paper also details the significance of having seen a live newborn white shark. Where white sharks give birth is one of the holy grails of shark science. Gauna is known online as The Malibu Artist. He has spent thousands of hours filming sharks around the world, and his videos of them swimming close to beachgoers have millions of views. What he and Sternes observed could help solve the longstanding mystery of great white birthing habits.