It seems that the great white shark has been keeping a secret from scientists all these years — the location of a shark gathering place about 1,000 miles off the coast of Baja California that researchers are calling the “White Shark Cafe.” Until now scientists thought that great white sharks fed in the coastal waters along the western shores of North America, which are filled with fish and other tasty shark snacks. But when a group of researchers from Stanford University began tagging the sharks, they noticed that many of them left the rich coastal area behind and headed out into the open ocean, into what was thought to be a marine food desert.
The researchers were stumped; why would these hungry sharks swim hundreds of miles to an area that seemed to have very little life? To find out, they put together a state-of-the-art research ship called the “Falkor,” tagged 30 sharks (more than had ever been done in one season), and headed out to the mysterious location in the middle of the ocean. What they found was astounding. Not only did they find the tagged sharks, they also found a previously undiscovered ecosystem, with a huge diversity of animals from fish to squids to plankton. This area was no desert; it was teeming with life. This discovery just serves to reinforce how little we know about our own oceans, and how much more we can learn by studying and protecting the animals that live there. Thanks to these sharks, the researchers now have the data they need to try and get the “White Shark Cafe” classified as a World Heritage Site so that it will be protected and preserved.
Want to learn more? Visit https://www.npr.org/sections/thetwo-way/2018/05/28/613394086/great-white-sharks-have-a-secret-cafe-and-they-led-scientists-right-to-it
June 6, 2018