First great white shark spotted off coast of Spain in 40 years

There have been over the years unconfirmed rumours and sightings of the white shark in the Cabrera Archipelago off the coast of Spain.

But documented evidence of the shark hasn’t been verified for nearly 40 years. But a documentary crew on a scientific expedition called the Anitak 2018 spotted a great white shark eight miles from the Cabrera Island.

The crew filmed the white shark (Carcharodon Carcharias) for 70 minutes. It was five metres long.

Not only was the crew able to photograph and film the shark, but along the expedition were 10 people from five countries including two 16-year-old students Miguel Félix Groves and Nahim Lasgaa who won a scholarship to be on board. The pair received the scholarship with a submission about plastics at sea, titled Medioambienttrap.

The presence of large white sharks in Spanish waters was a constant rumor, as well as historical evidence ratified by photographs and toponymy across the Costa, levantina and Catalan Coast. For many years, however, it has not been possible to document how it was done this morning aboard the research ship.

We saw a black fin and straight away could see it was a very big shark,” explains documentary director Fernando López-Mirones López-Mirones, still overcome by the excitement of the sighting. “The conditions in the sea were amazing and we had the specimen around three meters from the boat, and we could watch it up close for 70 minutes.”

The species is the same as the one that lives in the waters of Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, “but they are different populations,” according to the biologist. When in the Mediterranean, the shark’s diet is based on red tuna.

“This shark would not come close to the coast and it doesn’t eat humans. We do not make up part of its menu,” López-Mirones said.

The last recorded capture of a great white shark was in 1976. A 2007 documentary by journalist Juan Andrés Ruiz about the history of this species in the waters of Mallorca estimated that local fishermen had caught 27 of these creatures between 1920 and 1976.

The Alnatik expedition was conducted in the surroundings of the Cabrera National Park and was carried out as part of the Librera program. Run by the ecological organization SEO Birdlife in collaboration with Ecoembes, this project seeks to raise awareness of the need to maintain areas of natural conservation and keep them free of trash. In the last weeks the expedition has collected data on sea turtles, sperm whales, dolphins, red tuna and ray fish. They have also gathered information on the presence of plastic microfibers in the sea.

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Peg Fong is also in recovery from newspapers

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