An all-white great white shark washed ashore barely alive this past week in New South Wales, Australia, and after it died, it was collected for study.
The 5-foot shark was said to be albino in social media posts, but its black eyes reveal that it's more likely leucistic, a condition defined by a lack of pigment.
The rare discovery was made in Port Hacking in southern Sydney, and photos were posted to Facebook by Luke Anslow, beneath was this caption:
“Beached itself in the shallows in Port Hacking. Not something you see every day. Albino white.”
Anslow has not yet responded to emails requesting more information but stated in his comment thread: “It was alive, flapping around. It is at the front of a mate's place who lives on the water.”
The post was shared to the White Shark Interest Group page, where one person questioned whether it might be a porbeagle shark, based on the rounded shape of its dorsal fin.
But the general consensus among locals and experts was that the shark is a very young great white.
Christopher Lowe, a California-based shark expert, said via email that the shark “certainly has the right morphology of a white shark.”
Lowe runs the Shark Lab at Cal State University, Long Beach, and has worked extensively with white sharks.
Asked whether this shark might have been able to survive as an all-white predator, without any camouflage, Lowe responded: “No doubt that it would have had a tougher time making a living as an adult white shark, but those flatfishes and skates are easy targets.”
Great white sharks feed largely on bottom fish, skates and rays, until they grow to about 12 feet and shift their focus to seals and sea lions.
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