Great white sharks could soon make an appearance in UK waters, according to scientists who have been tracking their movements. The marine research group Ocearch has been monitoring the migration patterns of great white sharks, and they believe that the predators may soon head towards the coasts of Devon, Cornwall, Ireland, and northern France.
Ocearch has been tracking more than 400 tagged sharks, and their data reveals that Mediterranean great whites have been increasingly swimming north in recent years, likely in search of food such as seals. Chris Fischer, the founder of Ocearch, stated that they expect the sharks to move beyond Brest in France and reach Cornwall.
The non-profit organization plans to visit the UK in 2024, confident that they will find these toothy visitors in British waters. This prediction comes after Cape Cod in Massachusetts, USA, has witnessed a surge in the number of great white sharks due to the growing population of government-protected seals, which serve as their primary food source. Prior to the 1970s, the presence of great whites in the area was almost non-existent.
Despite these findings, some experts remain skeptical about the possibility of great white sharks thriving in UK waters. Marine biologist Gregory Skomal, for instance, points out that there is no documented evidence of white sharks off the coast of Cornwall. He expressed doubt about the likelihood of encountering a single shark in the region. Similarly, ecologist and shark specialist Georgia Jones suggests that the Mediterranean sharks may have simply become lost and that there is no concrete evidence of them preying on UK seals.
Although there have been approximately 100 credible but unconfirmed sightings of great white sharks in the UK over the past decade, the University of Plymouth states that the beasts are most commonly found around North America (including California, Hawaii, and the Gulf of Mexico), as well as South Africa and Australia. Nevertheless, experts have previously suggested that these apex predators could become more common in UK waters by 2050 due to rising sea temperatures caused by climate change.
Currently, the most common shark species found in the waters surrounding the UK are the blue and basking sharks. With ongoing research and tracking efforts, scientists hope to gain further insights into the movements and behavior of great white sharks, shedding light on whether they will truly become a regular presence off the coasts of the UK in the future.