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News Link • Biology, Botany and Zoology

Great White Sharks' Fuel for Oceanic Voyages: Liver Oil

•, by Rob Jordan

Great white sharks are not exactly known as picky eaters, so it might seem obvious that these voracious predators would dine often and well on their migrations across the Pacific Ocean. But not so, according to new research by scientists at Stanford University and the Monterey Bay Aquarium.

The researchers' findings, published July 17 in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, reveal previously unknown details of how great white sharks power themselves and stay buoyant on non-stop trips of more than 2,500 miles. The discoveries have potentially broad implications for conservation and management of coastal waters.

"We have a glimpse now of how white sharks come in from nutrient-poor areas offshore, feed where elephant seal populations are expanding -- much like going to an Outback Steakhouse -- and store the energy in their livers so they can move offshore again," said researcher Barbara Block, a professor of marine sciences and a senior fellow at the Stanford Woods Institute for the Environment. "It helps us understand how important their near-shore habitats are as fueling stations for their entire life history." 

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