Tagged research

Study indicates great white sharks grow and mature slowly

great white shark head-on image
A recent study indicates great white sharks growth rates are much slower than previously thought.

Great white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) grow and reach sexual maturity at much slower rates than previously believed, according to a press release from NOAA Fisheries. A study completed in 2014 and published online last month in the journal of Marine & Freshwater Research used carbon-14 dating and vertebral band pair counts of 81 white shark specimens, collected in the western North Atlantic Ocean, to develop a growth curve for the species. According to the results, female white sharks reach sexual maturity at approximately 33 years of age, while males reach maturity at approximately 26 years. Additionally, the results of the study indicate that the life-span of white sharks could exceed 70 years, which places them among one of the longest living species of fish.

The latest findings on the growth rates and life-span of white sharks provides important information for conservation efforts of the species. Low reproduction rates coupled with slow growth and maturation rates could potentially put the species at greater risk for population decline, since losses in populations are not quickly replaced. Great white sharks are a protected species in U.S. waters and legally must be released live, if captured. However, individual white sharks are sometimes killed as a result of incidental by-catch from commercial fisheries, so it is important that these types of incidents be managed to protect the welfare of white shark populations, as a whole.

For more information, check out NOAA Northeast Fisheries Science Center press release,

“White Sharks Grow More Slowly and Mature Much Later Than Previously Thought,”

and the Marine and Freshwater Research journal article,

“Age and growth of the white shark, Carcharodon carcharias, in the western North Atlantic Ocean.”

Great white sharks expected to return to Chatham

MyFox Boston is reporting that the presence of great white sharks is expected again around Chatham, Massachusetts this year. The presence of several white sharks in the vicinity of Lighthouse Beach caused the closing of the beach last year. While tourists and the tourism industry might not exactly be welcoming the return of the great white sharks, researchers are expected to take advantage of their presence in hopes of learning more about the species.

Last year, five great white sharks were tagged in the waters around Chatham. Their migrations were tracked as far Florida. According to the satellite tag data, at least one of the sharks was recorded in water as cold as 44° F. However, the sharks spent 80% of the time in water temperatures in the 59°-70° F range, according to the Cape Cod Times.