An ongoing partnership between SeaWorld and OCEARCH builds on their common concern for healthy underwater ecosystems. To understand more about how and where sharks are spending their winters, a study investigated the well-known great white sharks off the coast of both North and South Carolina. The five-year relationship between SeaWorld and OCEARCH has worked to inform scientists on these and other marine animal’s life cycles and home waters.
Dr. Gisele Montano is a veterinarian working with SeaWorld as a reproductive physiologist. Dr. Montano’s research uses ultrasound technology to assess the viability of wild shark’s reproduction. Working mostly with animals within the SeaWorld parks, she was thrilled to collaborate on this project. The specific range of premier environments selected for feeding, choice mating grounds, and pup nurseries for white sharks in this region of the Atlantic are not well understood, nor is the dataset complete. A goal of the collaboration is to inform these gaps, but moreover, to understand and act on key feedings. It is too easy to understate the importance of obtaining critical research necessary to inform future protections for this emblematic species.
In years of previous research the sharks in the study have shown a strong preference for wintering off this large swath of eastern seaboard, but why? The reasons for male and female great white sharks to return are not yet understood, a significant driver for the study. The research hopes to identify and track which factors are most impactful during the changing weather conditions. Perhaps, this area simply offers favorable currents or water temperature, or greater food security. Dr. Montano is investigating specifically if these waters are selected for breeding purposes, and if so, species management specialists should be aware of and act accordingly. While some may say about shark-filled waters, ‘screw that there are sharks in there!’ Dr. Montano and her team look forward to saying, “there are sharks in there, screwing!” Humor aside, a better understanding of what’s going on down in the watery deep should improve the scientific and lay community’s understanding of the majestic great white. Click this link to subscribe: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvP1S1cwmJQ