Michael Dommer and Nicole Naspe-Lucas have been studying great white sharks together for more than 20 years. They started their work off Guadalupe Island in 1999. Since then, they have amassed a huge database of great whites off the coast of this 94-square-mile island located about 160 miles from Baja California.
This database includes some of the world’s most famous white sharks, including Lucy, a 17-foot-long female with a deformed tail fin, and Deep Blue, which is believed to be 50 years old and 20 feet long. One of the largest eggs known.
Domer said Dommer and Nasby Lucas, of the Institute of Marine Conservation Science, started tracking the sharks by accident. He was looking forward to studying a group of bluefin tuna around Guadalupe Island using satellite trackers.
“Unfortunately, by the time I was able to buy the tickets and organize a trip to Guadalupe Island, the blue fin was gone,” he said. NEWSWEEK. “However, we did come across a number of great white sharks.”
The satellite tracking system soon sparked a few surprises. “The first sign came out in the middle of the ocean, between the mainland and Hawaii,” Domer said. “I immediately realized that what we thought we knew about the genre was completely wrong. I’ve been hooked, and I’ve been looking for great whites ever since.”
Year after year, Domir and Nasby Lucas returned to tag and identify the sharks there, creating a database that now includes hundreds of large eggs.
Through their research, we now know a huge amount about this group of sharks. Males return there on an annual basis, while females have a two-year migration cycle when they are pregnant.
“The more we know about sharks, the more questions we have,” Nasby Lucas said.
The team discovered that these great whites spend a significant amount of time in the open ocean, occasionally making their way to Hawaii, roughly 2,500 miles away. What they do there and why remains a mystery.
Nasby Lucas said that on this year’s trip, which ended in the beginning of November, they saw 40 different sharks, including a female they spotted previously in 2016. “It’s really exciting when you get to [see] One of the senior females.”
Over the course of 20 years, she said, the shark population has risen off Guadalupe Island. “It’s really a good stable place for them,” she said.
While they continued to monitor the population, they reduced labeling on the island of Guadalupe and turned their attention to the shores of the United States and the very large white population off the coast of California.
Returning from Guadalupe Island, Domir and Nasby Lucas headed to Point Conception, a headland in Southern California, about 130 miles north of Los Angeles. Here a large number of great white sharks were discovered.
“Our new site off California is, in my opinion, the most important white shark research site in the Northeast Pacific,” Dommer said. “Why? It’s very simple: no one knew this site had been around for only a few years. There are a lot of sharks out there.”
Domir and Nasby Lukas are currently working on population assessments and have begun tagging sharks in this area. “[We’re] trying to understand [that] The area because it’s really not well understood. Nasby Lucas said it appears to be another adult gathering. There are a lot of sharks out there, I’ll say that.
Hopefully, the tagged sharks will show the team where they are heading and what areas they are using. They hope to find out if these sharks are moving up and down coasts, visiting other areas thousands of miles away, such as Guadalupe, or closer locations, such as central California.
Their last trip to Point Conception just ended. Nasby Lucas says they will now work to compile their findings so they can present them in scientific publications. Preliminary results show that males go abroad for half a year before returning. The females, she said, “remain somewhat of a mystery.” She said the numbers indicate that the population appears to be healthy and growing. This could be a result Protection set by the state of California.
“We have more work to do before we get our results,” Domer said. “What that immediately means is that there are more great white sharks in California than previously thought. We are now just beginning the serious work of assessing the number of sharks at this site, tagging and tracking them to see how they differ from the sharks of the sites other well-known.