VIDEO: Is this really the first great white shark spotted in Spanish waters for 30 years?

Fiona Govan
Fiona Govan - [email protected]
VIDEO: Is this really the first great white shark spotted in Spanish waters for 30 years?
Photo: ALNITAK 2018 / Facebook

Marine biologists have released remarkable video footage of the first sighting of a great white shark in Spanish waters for three decades.


However, the video has raised doubts among some experts that it is indeed a great white.

The team of researchers on the Alnitak expedition spotted the great white (Carcharodon carcharias) in waters off Cabrera, an uninhabited island and nature reserve 11 miles south of Mallorca.

It was a sighting that has made headlines across Spain and even into the international press.

READ MORE: JAWS! Great White shark spotted off Balearic Islands

Now, the team has released a video showing the predator circling their boat.

During the video clip you can hear hoots of excitement coming from those on board as the great white shark is spotted and filmed.

The shark measuring five metres (16.5ft) in length was filmed around 10am on Thursday morning by the team led by marine biologist Ricardo Sagarminaga van Buiten. The image was later uploaded onto the Facebook page of the Alnitak expedition 2018.

“In recent years there were possible unconfirmed sightings and various rumours, but this is the first scientific observation of the presence of the white shark in Spanish waters for at least 30 years."

However, other marine experts have stepped forward to cast doubt on the sighting. Some suggest that it might in fact be a shortfin mako (Isurus Oxyrinchus), a species of shark that shares similarities in appearance to a young male great white.

“At first sight, after seeing the images, I already had serious doubts that I was seeing a white shark. Now, having seen part of the video,  I am inclined to believe that it is actually a shortfin mako, a species seen more frequently in the Mediterranean,” Gonzalo Mucientes, a shark expert and biologist at the CBIO research center at the University of Porto in Portugal told El Pais.

Meanwhile, Ana María Abril, of the University of the Balearic Islands (UIB) and Eric Clua, of the University of Perpignan, who are both shark specialists and members of the Shark Med association believe the shark is likely a porbeagle (Lamna nasus).

"They are from the same family of "mackeral" sharks, with the same general shape, except for a few details," the pair told Ultima Hora, a Balearic Island newsaper. They explained that the swift movements were more akin to the behaviour of a porbeagle than a great white.

But the pair insisted that a sighting of such a shark was equally important as that of Great White because of their rarity.

These factsheets from the Shark Trust show the similarities between the species:

Great whites are one of 46 species of shark reported in the Mediterranean, although sightings are incredibly rare.

The more common but usually harmless Blue shark — tintorera in Spanish – have been blamed for closing beaches when their presence in detected close to the shore.

VIDEO: Ten-foot shark sparks panic among bathers on Costa del Sol beach 

The last confirmed sighting of a great white in Spanish waters was in Tossa del Mar in November, 1992 when a male of the species beached itself on the sand during the night.

The giant fish was still thrashing around in the shallows when a team from the Civil Guard was called to deal with it.

A video clip shows the great white on the Mar Menuda beach in Tossa de Mar:

The animal died in the waves and an autopsy performed by marine biologists revealed it had been suffering from ‘liver problems’, according to press reports at the time.

Authorities in the Costa Brava town were fearful that the incident would drive away tourists and sought to play down the dangers.

“It is a species that does not attack humans,” insisted Pilar Mundet, the mayor of Tossa de Mar at the time.


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