A great white shark from Guadalupe Island off Mexico has become the first tagged shark from that area to have entered California waters.
The mature female shark, named Arden Grace, on Thursday was positioned near San Clemente Island off Southern California. She appeared to have been toward the coast, at a time when the vast majority of adult white sharks from Guadalupe Island and Central California are hundreds of miles offshore.
On Friday Arden Grace (pictured with this post) had turned north and had passed San Miguel Island (see graphic posted below), the northernmost of the Channel Islands and west of Santa Barbara, causing scientists to wonder whether she might become the first white shark to connect Guadalupe Island great whites to those that congregate seasonally off Central California.
Extensive tagging of white sharks is conducted at both sites and only once, in 2008, has a tagged shark been tracked from Central California (Farallon Islands) to Guadalupe Island, which is located 165 miles west of the Baja California port of Ensenada.
Arden Grace was tagged in 2012 by Michael Domeier and the Hawaii-based Marine Conservation Science Institute. On Thursday the shark had passed Cortes Bank, about 100 miles west of Orange County.
The MSCI posted this on its Facebook page: “Have you got a SCUBA trip lined up at San Clemente this weekend? If you do you might want to watch your back.”
Another post read: “This is a strange time of year for her to be in the coastal region. We’ve never had a female in our cold winter waters at this time of year, and we’ve never had one of our Guadalupe white sharks swim to California.”
On Friday the MSCI posted this statement: “Arden Grace now just off San Miguel Island … she’s really making good time. This is something we have NEVER seen before. She should be in the warm offshore waters between Mexico and Hawaii. This could mean she is NOT pregnant this reproductive season. Maybe she’ll be the first mature female to ever connect Guadalupe Island population to the Central California population?”
Great White sharks in the northeastern Pacific are known to have site fidelity, during the fall and early winter feeding months, to either Guadalupe Island or Central California elephant seal rookeries, such as the Farallon Islands west of San Francisco.
During mid-winter sharks from both areas travel to warmer pelagic waters to the southwest.
–Note: Those who wish to follow the movements of Arden Grace and other sharks tagged at Guadalupe can do so via the MCSI’s Expedition White Shark app for iPhones and iPads. Stanford University scientists have created a smartphone app that allows people to track Central California white sharks. Also, white sharks and pelagic species can be tracked online via this link.