Sunday, 10 June 2012

Australia's Great White Sharks Always Go Home to Breed

Two populations of great white sharks frolicking in Australian waters may look alike, but researchers have found they are distinct genetically, a finding that has conservation implications.

"The genetic makeup of white sharks west of Bass Strait was different from those on the eastern seaboard of Australia, despite the lack of any physical barrier between these regions," said John Pandolfi, a chief investigator at the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies, The University of Queensland.

"This shows that while the sharks can roam around Australia and across ocean basins, they repeatedly return to their home region to breed," Pandolfi added in a statement.

The researchers studied tissue samples collected from 97 great white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) around Australia. The sharks were caught during beach-safety programs, as by-catch from fisheries or during scientific field research. Overall the genetic tests showed two different groups of great white sharks, one So-called mitochondrial DNA, which is passed down from mothers, suggested the ladies return to their birthplace; nuclear genetic tests also suggested males may do the same despite their long-distance travels. 

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