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'Holy Grail of Shark Science' Caught on Camera Off US Coast - First Recording Ever of This Moment in a Great White's Life

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A California duo recently made a discovery they referred to as “the holy grail of shark science.”

Phillip Sternes, a UC Riverside biology doctoral student, and Carlos Gauna, a wildlife filmmaker, captured a newborn great white shark shedding its embryonic layer in July 2023, according to SFGate.

The pair’s findings were published on Jan. 29 in the scientific journal Environmental Biology of Fishes.

This may be the first time that such an event has ever been recorded.

“To capture this moment … it’s the holy grail of shark science,” Sternes told SFGate. “You’re looking for such a specific moment in time and place. To be there in the right place at the right time … you’re talking very slim chances. It’s groundbreaking.”

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Sternes and Gauna observed the baby shark off the coast of Carpinteria, California. The two men were flying a drone over the water when a pale white shark caught their eyes.

They immediately knew they had something special on their hands.

“I just heard him say, ‘Whoa,’” Sternes recalled. “I leaned over and got right behind him, and we saw this white object appear on the screen. I nearly fell out of my seat in excitement.”

At first, they thought they were observing an albino shark, which would have been an extremely rare sighting of its own.

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However, Sternes noticed that the shark was rather small, only about 5 feet in length, and had rounded fins, which are characteristic of newborn or embryonic sharks.

The shark’s pale white color appeared to be from a film-like substance that was peeling away from its body. That’s when the duo realized this must be a newborn shark shedding its embryonic layer.

“We were completely blown away,” Sternes said.

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Scientists have speculated that the coastline from Santa Barbara to Baja California is a birthing location for great white sharks. However, because the species is elusive not much is known about their reproductive process.

“It’s one of the biggest mysteries we have: Where do they mate? Where do they give birth?” Sternes remarked. “That’s just a dead zone despite the tagging we do.”

This unique and profound discovery shows us how much more there is to learn about God’s creation.

Though humans have held dominion over earth for thousands of years and have explored far and wide, there are still many places that humans have not, or cannot, explore.

Take the deepest point in the Pacific Ocean, Challenger Deep, for example. Only a few humans have ever even traveled to this site, expending considerable time and money to do so. Even so, little is still known about the mysterious abyss. Scientists aren’t even sure how deep Challenger Deep actually goes.

It’s safe to say we still have much to learn about our planet.

“We have better maps of the moon and Mars than we do of our own planet,” remarked Dr. Gene Feldman, an oceanographer emeritus at NASA.

So, although we may never explore every corner of the earth or witness the many fascinating things that occur in the wild on a daily basis, we can still be thankful to God for all the beautiful things we can observe.


This article appeared originally on The Western Journal.

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