A little over a month ago, LiveScience reported that it appeared that Great White Shark populations may be growing in Cape Cod.
Atlantic White Shark, a nonprofit organization, found 147 individual great white’s in the area according to their new survey. This happened in between June 2016 to October 2016. This is a leap from back in 2014 when, in the same time period, 68 individuals had been found. This is a big deal for the science community, and for animal conservationists alike. Why, though? Why should we be excited that these great white shark populations seem to be increasing?
1) We Actually Know Very Little About the Great White Shark
Just about everyone in America knows what a great white is, thanks to the movie “Jaws”. However, because of that movie as well, a very negative stigma was added to their name. They are some of the most feared predators on Earth, but they didn’t come to earn that name themselves — Hollywood gave them that stereotype.
In actuality, we don’t know much about the great white shark.
According to a National Geographic article from last year, we don’t know how long Great Whites live, how long until they reach maturity, and we don’t know anything about their mating habits.
2) They’re on the Endangered List
In 2016, South Africa’s great white number dropped. They’re considered vulnerable on the endangered list, but if their numbers are truly rising as the aforementioned study suggests, the could be taken off that list. Which, of course, is a very good thing. Not only for the species itself, but actually for the ocean’s ecosystem.
3) Good Great White Population Numbers Help the Ecosystem
Great white sharks, no matter what popular media may tell you, aren’t really obnoxious eaters. So great whites aren’t off eating everything they can sink their teeth into and making the fish populations less than they should be. In reality, they’re helping ecosystem around them. All sharks do this.
Without a healthy prey population, things will go haywire. Too much prey and not enough predators is a bad thing in any ecosystem. Not to mention, sharks will go after the weak or sick fish in a community a lot of the time. This also applies to a great white’s favorite meal, the seal.
So don’t be worried that populations of this shark may be going up — you’re not in more danger. In fact, the ecosystem is safer, and the more we get to learn about the great white shark, the less we’ll be afraid of them.