Mysterious Great White Shark Lair Discovered in the Middle of the Pacific Ocean

Wednesday, 19 September 2018 - 10:42AM
Wednesday, 19 September 2018 - 10:42AM
Mysterious Great White Shark Lair Discovered in the Middle of the Pacific Ocean
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Image Credit: Unsplash/Pixabay Composite
There is either a crazy 007 movie set piece being filmed in secrecy out in the Pacific Ocean, or a team of scientists have just stumbled onto a new chapter in the book called Nature, You Scary. Researchers recently headed to an otherwise unremarkable spot approximately 1,200 miles east of Hawaii on an expedition to learn more about why great white sharks kept returning to that part of the ocean every year. When they got there, they discovered an area the size of Colorado, now deemed the "White Shark Cafe," where hoards of sharks go to enjoy an all-you-can-eat buffet of squid and small fish at the point beneath the surface called the mid-water (just above where the ocean goes pitch black).



The recent expedition to the Cafe was led by scientists at Stanford University and the Monterey Bay Aquarium, but according to the San Francisco Chronicle, marine scientist Barbara Block first began tagging white sharks in the area 14 years ago. Indeed, Block is the one who coined the name "White Shark Cafe," but at the time she didn't know if it was a kitchen or one big sex park, which is what the new team aboard the Schmidt Ocean Institute's Falkor research vessel wanted to find out. "The story of the white shark tells you that this area is vitally important in ways we never knew about," Monterey Bay Aquarium research scientist Salvador Jorgensen said. "They are telling us this incredible story about the mid-water, and there is this whole secret life that we need to know about."

Through observations and tracking of the makos, blues, and great white sharks, the team noticed a pattern. Around late winter/early spring when the sharks arrived, they would dive down to around 1,400 feet during the day and 600 feet at night. What threw the researchers for a loop is that around April, the males changed their diving habits but the females stuck to their routine. "Either they are eating something different or this is related in some way to their mating," Jorgensen said. 

White Shark Cafe is the "largest migration of animals on Earth" according to the research team, and it has already taught them a lot. "We now have a gold mine of data," said Block. "We have doubled the current 20-year data set on white shark diving behaviors and environmental preferences in just three weeks...[This] will help us better understand the persistence of this unique environment and why it attracts such large predators."
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