First sighting off Spanish coast in three decades.
For the first time in over 30 years, a great white shark has been observed off Spain’s Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean. Tracked by researchers from Alnitak, a Spanish conservation project, the five-metre shark was observed for over an hour as it traversed the Cabrera Archipelago National Park, reserve eight miles off the southern coast of Majorca.
The expedition was led by marine biologist Ricardo Sagarminaga van Buiten, who uploaded the images to social media. "It was just wonderful to see this amazing creature in these waters”, said van Buiten. "They are perceived as man-eating monsters, but the reality is they are on the brink of extinction, partly due to this perception. Humans are not their food of choice and the likelihood of being attacked is so incredibly low, it is far less risky than driving," he added.
“In recent years there were possible unconfirmed sightings and various rumours, but this is the first scientific observation of the presence of Carcharodon in Spanish waters for at least 30 years,” posted Alnitak on its Facebook page. “On this occasion, this historic sighting has been photographed, filmed and contemplated by a crew of 10 people from five countries.”
Despite their fearsome reputation for attacking humans, relatively few attacks have proven fatal. Marine biologists believe the sharks “test-bite” to explore things entering their territory. In 2016, a picture of divers posing with a dead great white shark they caught in the Mediterranean sparked outrage after being posted online.
Great whites are normally associated with South Africa and Australia – but are native to the Mediterranean. Numbers of have dropped sharply in recent decades due to overfishing and accidental catches in nets and discarded fishing gear. It is hoped the sighting could be a sign of more to come.