Great White Shark Now Protected Off California Coast

Environmental groups say only 340 Carcharodon carcharias ply the waters off the Golden State.

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Juvenile great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) .Photo by John Virata
John Virata

While the great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) is hunted in Australia when authorities deem the animal a danger to swimmers and surfers, protection of the shark under California’s Endangered Species Act became official today as the state’s Department of Fish and Wildlife published its action in the California Regulatory Notice Register.

According to, the environmental groups Oceana, the Center for Biological Diversity, and Shark Stewards, asked the department to list the shark as an endangered species, claiming that just 340 great white sharks occur off the west coast of the United States. Because of the action today by the commission, the shark’s population in California will be extensively studied starting in 2014. After a review, the department will make a determination whether to list the shark as an endangered species.

Targeted sport and commercial fishing of the shark has been banned in California since the mid-1990s, although the great white has been knowingly pursued by pier fisherman off California’s coast. In July 2012, a fisherman hooked a juvenile great white shark off the Manhattan Beach pier and refused to cut the line to free the fish in spite of being told it is illegal to catch great white sharks. The co-director of the Roundhouse Aquarium, which is located on the pier, was finally able to cut the line in spite of menacing looks from the fisherman and his fishing partners. The great white shark has been maligned for decades by the media and filmmakers. There is still a lot to learn about the animal and many scientists have studied many aspects of its behavior, feeding habits and migration patterns, but very little is known about other behaviors, such as how it reproduces.

More great white shark information:

To read more on protecting the great white shark, click here.

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