Tracking Great White Sharks

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Counting great white sharks, and why scientists want your sightings. Also, scroll down for new video shot off of California's coast — and a "Facebook" of great white dorsal fins.

Guest Michael Scholl photographs a great white shark.
Guest Michael Scholl photographs a great white shark.

Summer means shark sightings. Media frenzy. Visions of “Jaws." Screams at the beach.

But when it comes to great white sharks – the apex predator – marine researchers really want to know how many are out there. And they may soon ask for your help in counting.

Take a picture, they say, anytime you see a great white. Just get the fin. That’s all it takes. It’s as distinct as a fingerprint. And they will build the database of which great whites are swimming where. Fin by fin, scientists are building the global map of the great white shark kingdom.
-Tom AshbrookGuests:

Michael Scholl, marine biologist and great white shark expert.  Founder and director of the White Shark Trust.  His ten years worth of photographs — of more than 1,500 great whites — form the basis of a new computer database that will help study and track the animals.

John McCosker, one of the world's foremost experts on great white sharks.  Senior scientist and chair of the department of aquatic biology at the California Academy of Sciences.

Christopher Lowe, director of the SharkLab at California State University Long Beach. He joins us from a boat in the Pacific, off of Southern California, where he is tagging baby sharks.


See the video shot recently by surfer Chuck Patterson off the coast of California that has everyone buzzing.

Also, here are some images of great white shark fins, compiled by our guest Michael Scholl.

Great white shark fins (Credit: Michael Scholl/BARCROFT)
Great white shark fins (Credit: Michael Scholl/BARCROFT)

You can send your great white shark pictures to Michael Scholl at

This program aired on August 16, 2010.


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