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The first photo of a newborn white shark?

The first photo of a newborn white shark?

A newborn great white shark may have been photographed for the first time, which could help improve protection for this vulnerable species, a study published on Tuesday suggests.

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Baby white sharks have already been seen in the wild, but this is likely the first time images have emerged of an individual born just a few hours ago, according to experts.

“No one has ever been able to determine where it was born or see a live birth,” confirms photographer Carlos Gaona, who captured this moment and published the images in the specialized magazine “Environmental Biology of Fishes.” “It's the holy grail of shark research.”

France Press agency

With University of Riverside (California) doctoral student Philip Stearns, Carlos Gaona observed a pregnant female in early July 2023 off the California coast, near the city of Santa Barbara.

The female appeared to dive deep before a small shark surfaced shortly after, looking directly into the lens of a drone camera.

The first photo of a newborn white shark?

France Press agency

Experts wondered about a thin white layer surrounding the small shark, which it shed while swimming. They put forward two hypotheses: it may be milk secreted by the mother in the womb to nourish it, or a skin disease.

In any case, researchers must now confirm that they have located the birthplace, in the hope of encouraging protection of this species classified as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

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In fact, sharks are often collateral victims of fishing operations or cull campaigns to protect beaches, while attacks on humans are rare.

“By knowing exactly where they go to give birth, we will be able to protect these areas from the negative effects of human presence: fishing activities, habitat destruction, noise associated with marine traffic…,” he said. AFP: Heikki Zidowitz, head of WWF Germany, who was not involved in the study.