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White sharks migrate thousands of miles across the sea, new study finds

A new study is shattering old beliefs about the great white shark - one of the largest, most awe-inspiring predators in the sea.

Scientists studying white sharks along the California coast have long believed that these powerful carnivores spend most of their lives relatively close to shore, pursuing seals and sea lions.

But a study in the Jan. 3 issue of the journal Nature reveals that white sharks can range across vast stretches of the open ocean. In fact, one male tagged along the Central California coast migrated thousands of miles to the warm waters off Hawaii - and remained there for nearly four months.

The Nature study was co-authored by six marine scientists from three California institutions:
* Barbara A. Block and Andre M. Boustany of the Tuna Research and Conservation Center (TRCC) - a joint project of Stanford University and the Monterey Bay Aquarium;
* Peter Pyle and Scot D. Anderson of the Point Reyes Bird Observatory (PBRO) in Stinson Beach, Calif.;
* Burney J. Le Boeuf and Scott Davis of the Institute of Marine Sciences at the University of California-Santa Cruz (UCSC).

"The migrations and environmental preferences of white sharks have remained elusive," observed Block, the Charles and Elizabeth Prothro Professor of Biological Sciences at Stanford's Hopkins Marine Station in Pacific Grove, Calif.

"Until this study, white sharks had only been tracked for a few days around seal colonies. With the advent of new electronic tagging technology, we can now track their movement, depth and temperature preferences over many weeks and months" she added.

"I was shocked by the results," noted UCSC biologist Le Boeuf. "Going into this, what we expected was that white sharks were just coastal animals that breed in Southern California, then migrate a few hundred miles north to feed on seals. But it turns out they've got a life at sea, and when they're in t
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Contact: Mark Shwartz
mshwartz@stanford.edu
831-239-3312
Stanford University
2-Jan-2002


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