For years, humans have thought of great white sharks wandering the sea at random, only occasionally venturing close to shore.
We were wrong.
Pacific white sharks spend months near the northern and central California coast between August and February foraging among elephant seals, sea lions and other prey, according to a new study published online Tuesday in the Proceedings of the Royal Society. The team of 10 California-based researchers determined that these sharks probably pass close to populated beaches and have been spotted as far inland as the mouth of the San Francisco Bay, east of the Golden Gate Bridge.
"It shows you how wild it is off our West Coast of North America. This is Yellowstone," said Stanford University marine sciences professor Barbara A. Block, who co-wrote the paper.
By tracking their movements, scientists determined that the fearsome predators make such precise, regular migrations each year between the California coast and the Hawaiian islands that they have become genetically distinct from their counterparts on the other side of the Pacific.