Researchers discover 'white shark cafe' in middle of Pacific Ocean

Christopher Davidson
September 21, 2018

Then in December, the sharks swim to their meeting spot in the middle of the ocean, about halfway to Hawaii, where they spend their winter and spring before returning to California.

What particularly confused scientists was why sharks were swimming huge distances.

The area, devoid of the kind of prey that great whites feed on, was actually full of shark food.

Scientists followed the sharks to their mysterious ocean lair and discovered a few potential reasons why the fearsome predators might be attracted to the area, the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute reported.

Located 1,200 nautical miles east of Hawaii at the North Pacific Subtropical Gyre, one of the largest biomes on the planet, the region is influenced by California's current (which carries cold, nutrient-rich waters south along the U.S. west coast) and by equatorial upwelling from the south that brings productivity.

Researchers now hope to investigate the area further.

"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 were exploring a patch of ocean that seemed desert-like, except that great white sharks were creating a lair there each winter after leaving food-abundant waters near the USA and Mexico.

Jorgensen said their research determined that the region was "extremely important for white sharks", which were "tracking [prey] day and night", according to Fox News.

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Scientists only have a very limited understanding of the region, due to its remote location.

This happens yearly like clockwork and scientists still do not know why. They began attaching acoustic pinger tags to track the fascinating marine animals 14 years ago. Every winter, the sharks swim toward what is now known as the "white shark cafe".

To investigate the matter, Block attached acoustic tags to 36 local sharks, as well as satellite monitoring tags with locator beacons that were created to pop off and float to the surface.

Block and her team were able to retrieve 10 of 22 tags that floated to the surface signaling the Falkor they had successfully detached.

"We now have a gold mine of data".

The experts say that sharks of different genders were also behaving differently.

"We found a high diversity of deep-sea fish and squids (over 100 species), which in combination with observations made by the ROV and DNA sequencing, demonstrate a viable trophic pathway to support large pelagic organisms such as sharks and tunas", said lead researcher Barbara Block.

Males are thought to dive down as many as 140 times a day while females only dive deep during daytime and remain in shallow water at night.

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