Wednesday October 7th, 2015 5:12PM

Study: Great white shark numbers surging off Eastern US, Canada coasts

By The Associated Press
PORTLAND, Maine (AP) -- A report that scientists are calling one of the most comprehensive studies of great white sharks finds their numbers are surging in the ocean off the Eastern U.S. and Canada after decades of decline - bad news if you're a seal, but something experts say shouldn't instill fear in beachgoers this summer.<br /> <br /> The study by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, published this month in the journal PLOS ONE, says the population of the notoriously elusive fish has climbed since about 2000 in the western North Atlantic.<br /> <br /> The scientists behind the study attribute the resurgence to conservation efforts, such as a federal 1997 act that prevented hunting of great whites, and greater availability of prey. The species is listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.<br /> <br /> "The species appears to be recovering," said Cami McCandless, one of the authors. "This tells us the management tools appear to be working."<br /> <br /> Great whites owe much of their fearsome reputation to the movie "Jaws," which was released 39 years ago Friday. But confrontations are rare, with only 106 unprovoked white shark attacks - 13 of them fatal - in U.S. waters since 1916, according to data provided by the University of Florida.<br /> <br /> They are, though, ecologically critical. They are apex predators - those at the top of the food chain - and help control the populations of other species. That would include the gray seal, whose growing colonies off Massachusetts have provided food.<br /> <br /> "You should be concerned for a good reason," said James Sulikowski, a professor of marine science at the University of New England in Portland, who was not involved in the study but noted it could help better target future conservation efforts for great whites. "We need these sharks in our waters."<br /> <br /> A separate study published in PLOS ONE this month suggested that great whites - also known just as white sharks - are also returning to abundance in the eastern north Pacific Ocean.<br /> <br /> "There's this general pattern of where the white sharks are protected, they seem to recover," said Tobey H. Curtis, one of the authors of the Atlantic study.<br /> <br /> The elusive nature of white sharks and the lack of historical data about their population levels required the authors to rely on sightings of sharks, as opposed to other ways to count sea life, such as commercial fishing surveys and census counts, Curtis said.<br /> <br /> The research adds recent unpublished data to previously published records to establish 649 confirmed white shark sightings from 1800 to 2010. The data show that a period of decline in white shark abundance during the 1970s and 1980s has reversed, the authors said.<br /> <br /> White shark abundance in the western North Atlantic declined by an estimated 73 percent from the early 1960s to the 1980s, the report says. Shark abundance is now only 31 percent down from its historical high estimate in 1961, the report states. The report does not provide a local estimate for the great white shark population, which some scientists say is between 3,000 and 5,000 animals.<br /> <br /> The report also illuminates where people encounter white sharks - mostly between Massachusetts and New Jersey during the summer and off Florida in the winter, it says.<br /> <br /> They also migrate based on water temperature and availability of prey, and are more common along the coast than offshore, the report states.
© Copyright 2015
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Grass fire impacts rush hour traffic on 985
Rush hour traffic on I-985 was slowed by a grass fire Wednesay afternoon with one lane closed while firefighters fought the blaze.
10:19PM ( 9 months ago )
Judge denies motions to move, delay Tsarnaev trial
Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev asked a federal appeals court Wednesday to overturn a judge's decision to not move his upcoming trial out of state.
10:02PM ( 9 months ago )
Sheriff: Man shot 2 on I-85 because he wanted car
A 22-year-old man shot two people who stopped to give him a ride on Interstate 85 in South Carolina on Christmas Eve because he wanted their car to drive to Georgia, a sheriff said Wednesday.
5:21PM ( 9 months ago )
Local/State News
Wallace, Jr. signs with Roush Fenway for Xfinity Series in 2015
10:47AM ( 9 months ago )
Kenseth wins Homestead, Elliott crowned Nationwide Champion
HOMESTEAD, FL - Matt Kenseth took home the winners trophy in the NASCAR Nationwide Series season finale on Saturday, holding off Kyle Busch and Kyle Larson for the victory while 18-year-old rookie Chase Elliott was officially crowned as the 2014 series champion in the Ford EcoBoost 300 at Homestead-Miami Speedway.
11:58PM ( 10 months ago )
What comes next for Chase Elliott?
What do you do when you accomplish your goals a year early?
12:34PM ( 10 months ago )
Xfinity Series
UPDATE: Jury deliberations expected to begin Thursday in Gainesville murder trial
Jury deliberations are expected to begin Thursday in the trial of one of two remaining defendants in the murder and attempted robbery of a Gainesville cab driver earlier this year.
4:50PM ( 22 minutes ago )
Ga.-born Billy Joe Royal, who sang 'Down in the Boondocks,' dies at age 73
NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — Billy Joe Royal, a pop singer who popularized the song "Down in the Boondocks," and crossed over into country music, has died. He was 73 years old.
4:14PM ( 58 minutes ago )
Man suspected of theft in multiple counties nabbed in Hoschton
A Braselton man is behind bars facing a list of charges after Jackson County Sheriff's Deputies tracked him down in a stolen car Monday in Hoschton.
4:09PM ( 1 hour ago )
US judge rejects request to let tens of thousands of skilled immigrants apply for green cards
SEATTLE (AP) — A federal judge declined to issue an emergency order Wednesday that would allow tens of thousands of highly skilled immigrants to immediately apply to become permanent residents, as the...
4:03PM ( 1 hour ago )
VIDEO: Hall County Chamber of Commerce hosts health expo
The Gainesville Chamber of Commerce hosted the Healthsmart Expo at the Gainesville Civic Center Wednesday.
2:27PM ( 2 hours ago )