Environmental Groups Seek Endangered Species Protections for Great White Shark

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According to the Los Angeles Times , several environmental groups have petitioned the United States government to declare great white sharks off California's coast as an endangered species. The petition comes as the population of these sharks has declined over recent years.

Here are some facts and details about the petition and this unique species of shark:

* The petition, which was filed by Oceana, the Center for Biological Diversity, and Shark Stewards, emphasizes that the great white shark population off the California coast is a genetically distinct population.

* Scientists and researchers are estimating that this population of sharks has about 340 mature individuals.

* The Santa Cruz Sentinel added that if the National Marine Fisheries Service decides to accept the petition, an official decision would take more than a year to be reached.

* Environmentalists are seeking the endangered species designation because it would mean that this population would get the highest level of protections from the federal government.

* Such a designation would also mean more funding and research efforts would be put towards the conserving these animals and better understanding the problems facing the population.

* Ashley Blacow, a spokeswoman for Oceana, said of the petition, "Our end goal is both the federal and state government listing the U.S. West Coast population of great white sharks as endangered."

* While research on these animals have been scarce, more information has emerged as of recently.

* National Geographic reported that great white sharks are the largest predatory fish in the world and when fully grown can range between 15 to more than 20 feet in length and weigh up to 5,000 pounds.

* These sharks are typically found in cool, coastal waters all across the globe and are threatened mainly by human activity, especially overfishing and being caught in fishing nets.

* Great white sharks can sense one drop of blood in 25 gallons of water and can detect tiny amounts of blood up to three miles away.

* They also play an important role in marine ecosystems by helping control seal and sea lion populations, according to the California Department of Fish and Game .

* Great white sharks have been protected in all California waters since 1994 and it is illegal for them to be caught under both sport and commercial fishing licenses in the state.

* BBC Nature added that they typically reach maturity at about 15 years of age and can live more than 30 years in the wild.

* Additionally, the sharks are at the top of the marine food chain and are responsible for five to 10 attacks on humans every year.

Rachel Bogart provides an in-depth look at current environmental issues and local Chicago news stories. Currently pursuing her master's degree in environmental science, she applies her knowledge and passion to both topics to garner further public awareness.

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