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Despite necessity and research, the National Marine Fisheries Service has declined to include the Great White Shark off the coast of California on the list of Endangered Species on Friday. The decision came as a shock to many and many are hoping this will not put a stop to future research.
The groups Oceana, the Centre for Biological Diversity, Shark Steward and WildEarth Guardians all petitioned the federal government for the protection of this species last August. Along with their petitions they also submitted new scientific studies from 2011 and 2012 that produced the first population estimates of the Great White Sharks off the U.S. West Coast.
It is of great importance that these populations get the much needed protection status as this Northeastern Pacific population Is genetically distinct. This specific group is found off the coasts of California and Guadalupe Island, Mexico. All the more reason that this small group of about 350 adults and sub-adults need the proper protection.
As with many other species, these apex predators are under threat due to bycatch in fisheries, pollution and destruction of habitat and climate-change related effects. Added decrease in numbers is due to the Great Whites’ low productive output, late maturity, slow growth rate and high mortality rates during their first year.
This choice to not grant the Californian Great White Sharks protection under the U.S. Endangered Species Act by the National Marine Fisheries Service is deemed by many as a mistake. But we hope that the conservation groups will not be discouraged and will continue to offer research and protection to these magnificent creatures.