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An estimated 2,400 great white sharks are believed to be living along the California coastline, a recent study has shown. While this may be alarming to anyone looking to beach it up this summer, it’s good news for the sharks. Prior to this survey, activists worried that the numbers for the Pacific northwest great white were possibly at endangered levels. With the data collected, it turns out the species is not only safe, but appears to be thriving. These numbers convince some that the species have no need for protected status, but activists disagree.
Oceana representatives say it is very hard to track shark numbers. Their species travels long distances, requires great amounts of food, and doesn't surface to breathe. Without the means of counting them in the open air, one would have to willingly enter an ocean filled with one of the most dangerous predators on Earth. Understandably, there aren’t a lot of people lining up for such a task. SFGate says an estimation was formed instead, using data from a 2011 survey conducted by some of the world's most notable shark experts. Oceana states that even if the numbers reflect reality, there are other factors to consider.
It is illegal in the U.S> to actively hunt a great white shark, but there are no laws about sharks who accidentally get caught up in fishing nets. While there are indeed some accidents happening, Oceana claims they have found fishing nets placed directly above shark nurseries. These fisherman then can sell the fins to overseas entrepreneurs, where shark fin soup is a great delicacy.
There’s also concern about the amount of females and their reproductive rates in the current population. Female great whites don’t reach sexual maturity until 12 and 14. Once there, they are able to have two to ten pups every three years. With no exact numbers for the age or number of females in the population, it’s difficult to tell how well the species is doing for certain. Currently, the shark remains under government protection, but as of print, they see no need to upgrade the species to “endangered”.