Eco Groups to US: Make Move on Great White Sharks

Petition filed to list one population as endangered species
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Aug 13, 2012 9:54 AM CDT
Eco Groups to US: Make Move on Great White Sharks
A young great white shark with a tag attached to its dorsal fin swims off in Monterey Bay, Calif., after its release by the Monterey Bay Aquarium Tuesday morning, Feb. 5, 2008.    (AP Photo/Monterey Bay Aquarium, Tyson Rininger)

The latest endangered species is one conventionally feared as more harmful to us than the other way around: the great white shark. Environmental groups want the northeastern Pacific Ocean population added to the endangered species list, the Los Angeles Times reports. The population off California's coast, a genetically distinct one, is in danger of going extinct, thanks in part to fishing practices. Young sharks often get entangled in gill nets, experts explain, and the population has dwindled to just 340 mature sharks.

Mercury levels are another concern—the sharks in this population have a level that is six times higher than that which can cause harm, and they also have contaminated liver tissue. "There could be fewer than 100 breeding females left," says one expert. "Numbers in this range are lower than most species currently listed as endangered." A petition was formally filed with the government Friday; if granted, it may lead to fishing changes as well as research into population restoration. (More great white shark stories.)

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