Great white sharks off the coast of Australia consist of two genetically distinct populations, according to a new study in the journal Marine Ecology Progress Series.
Scientists discovered that great white sharks at different points of Bass Strait represent unique populations. The scientists haven't yet used the "s" word-" species", but other coverage of the research has done so.
For the study, tissue samples from 97 sharks collected around Australia since 1989. Substantial genetic differences were subsequently found between the two populations.
Satellite and acoustic tracking research, also supports the tissue analysis findings. It was found that tagged sharks in eastern Australia did not go west of Bass Strait, and sharks tagged off Western and South Australia rarely went east. When they did, they often returned to breed.
Research teams working in other parts of the world have identified separate genetic populations of white sharks across ocean basins, but this is the first time such differences have been found at the regional scale.
Great whites are threatened and information like this can aid with conservation efforts.
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