White sharks in the Cantabrian Sea?
During the last months of September and October, we have had knowledge of two sightings of the great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) in the north of Spain. The first in Galicia, in Punta Lagosteira (A Coruña) on September 29. The second in Asturias, on the coast of Ribadesella on October 16.
🦈Compartimos nuevo vídeo del tiburón avistado en Langosteira. @CEMMAcetaceos e Instituto de Ciencias del Mar (Barcelona) confirman que es un tiburón blanco, que habría llegado a la costa desorientado. Es el primer avistamiento en Galicia de esta especie en peligro de extinción pic.twitter.com/U6w685ObwJ
— Puerto de A Coruña (@PuertoACoruna) September 30, 2021
Is it normal?
Although the entire peninsular coast (Atlantic and Mediterranean) appears on the maps as a distribution area for the white shark, the reality is that its appearance in the north and northwest of Spain is something extremely strange.
Previously, there was evidence of a couple of possible sightings (6 specimens captured in Galicia in the early ‘80s and the sighting of a fin in 2004), but the reality is that there are no photographs or clear identifications, so they should be considered as unreliable records. In fact, not only in northern Spain, but the species appears to be very rare throughout the European coast of northeast Atlantic with less than ten possible sightings.
These two cases can be considered as the first clearly confirmed sightings both in Galicia and Asturias, although it is very likely that they are the same animal.
Why have they appeared on our shores?
The reality is that we do not know and trying to give an explanation with the available information would be pure speculation. We do not know where it comes from or where it is going, we do not know if there was food availability in that area, if it was simply an animal en route or if there was any change in oceanographic conditions that could favor its presence closer to our coasts or if there was simply already happened before, only this time it could be seen and recorded by a human with today’s smartphones. Unfortunately, we cannot answer this question, at least for now.
Should we worry about it?
Absolutely NOT. Despite the image of man-eaters that a large part of society still has of these animals, the reality is that the number of attacks, worldwide and especially in areas of high human-white shark interaction, is absolutely ridiculous. . Humans are not part of the usual diet of sharks so they do not conceive of us as prey. According to the International Shark Attack File, in 2020, there were only 10 fatal shark attacks worldwide (without determining the species).
Obviously, it is a great predator and you have to have respect for it and if you see it, do not disturb it, but that should not distract us from how wonderful it is to be able to have an animal of these characteristics in our waters.
That a majestic species like the white shark, listed as “Critically Endangered” in European waters by the IUCN, appears on our shores is always good news and we must learn to appreciate and enjoy it.