Baby Great White Shark Caught on Camera for First Time

Researchers have captured footage of a newborn great white shark for the first time. Great whites are one of the world’s most famous apex predators, yet there is no previous record of a live newborn.

Almost pure white

Carlos Gauna and Phillip Sternes recorded the baby shark in California last year. They spotted the five-foot pup near Santa Barbara. Unusually for the species, the shark was almost pure white, triggering their interest. When they examined their footage they realized the shark was actually shedding a milky white layer of something from its body. They now believe it shows a newborn shark shedding its embryonic layer.

The duo are wildlife filmmakers and have been videoing and photographing sharks for years. In a statement, Gauna said the find is “one of the holy grails of shark science. No one has ever been able to pinpoint where they are born, nor has anyone seen a newborn baby shark alive. There have been dead white sharks found inside deceased pregnant mothers. But nothing like this.”


Speaking to ABC News, Guana said that they had seen a large adult in the area that they suspected was pregnant. They noticed that sharks tend to appear there in a small four-week window. Because of this, they decided to observe and film the sharks during that time frame, specifically aiming to see a newborn.

On this particular day, they saw a large shark disappear into the water’s depths and a little shark appeared soon after. “I fell out of my seat in excitement as it was unlike anything I had ever seen before,” said Sternes.

Not everyone is sure

If they are correct, then this is a huge find. It gives a potential birthing location for great white sharks. Other experts have weighed in on the sighting. Some concur with Gauna and Sternes, highlighting that researchers have long believed the area could be a birthing location, but have never proved it.

Other researchers are slightly more skeptical. Great white sharks often have up to 12 pups at a time, but this appears to be a lone shark. The researchers also note that the shark is very mobile and suggest it could have been born in the vicinity but have already swum a reasonable distance.

The baby great white shark.

The baby great white shark. Photo: Carlos Gauna/The Malibu Artist


One thing they can all agree on is that this is a fascinating discovery. There is a chance that the white layer could be the result of a skin condition, but Gauna and Sternes think this unlikely.

Even if they are wrong, the skin condition would signal a highly interesting discovery in its own right. “If that is what we saw, then that too is monumental because no such condition has ever been reported for these sharks,” Gauna explained.

Rebecca McPhee

Rebecca McPhee is a freelance writer for ExplorersWeb.

Rebecca has been writing about open water sports, adventure travel, and marine science for three years. Prior to that, Rebecca worked as an Editorial Assistant at Taylor and Francis, and a Wildlife Officer for ORCA.

Based in the UK Rebecca is a science teacher and volunteers for a number of marine charities. She enjoys open water swimming, hiking, diving, and traveling.