White Shark Cafe
The White Shark Café is a remote mid-Pacific Ocean
Pacific Ocean
The Pacific Ocean is the largest of the Earth's oceanic divisions. It extends from the Arctic in the north to the Southern Ocean in the south, bounded by Asia and Australia in the west, and the Americas in the east.At 165.2 million square kilometres in area, this largest division of the World...

 area noted as a winter and spring habitat of otherwise coastal great white shark
Great white shark
The great white shark, scientific name Carcharodon carcharias, also known as the great white, white pointer, white shark, or white death, is a large lamniform shark found in coastal surface waters in all major oceans. It is known for its size, with the largest individuals known to have approached...


The area, halfway between Baja California
Baja California
Baja California officially Estado Libre y Soberano de Baja California is one of the 31 states which, with the Federal District, comprise the 32 Federal Entities of Mexico. It is both the northernmost and westernmost state of Mexico. Before becoming a state in 1953, the area was known as the North...

 and Hawaii
Hawaii is the newest of the 50 U.S. states , and is the only U.S. state made up entirely of islands. It is the northernmost island group in Polynesia, occupying most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean, southwest of the continental United States, southeast of Japan, and northeast of...

, received its unofficial name in 2002 from researchers at the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute
The Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute is a not-for-profit oceanographic research center in Moss Landing, California affiliated with the Monterey Bay Aquarium. It was founded in 1987 by David Packard of Hewlett-Packard fame...

 who were studying the great white shark species using satellite
In the context of spaceflight, a satellite is an object which has been placed into orbit by human endeavour. Such objects are sometimes called artificial satellites to distinguish them from natural satellites such as the Moon....

Tracking can refer to:*Tracking , separating children into different classes according to their academic ability*Tracking, in computer graphics, a vital part of match moving...


Although the area had not previously been suspected as a shark habitat, when mapping the satellite tracking data, researchers discovered that members of the species frequently travel to and loiter in the area. The reasons for this behavior have not yet been identified. The area has very little food for the animals; researchers describe it as the shark equivalent of a desert
A desert is a landscape or region that receives an extremely low amount of precipitation, less than enough to support growth of most plants. Most deserts have an average annual precipitation of less than...

. Since both male and female great whites have been tracked there, one early hypothesis was that mating
In biology, mating is the pairing of opposite-sex or hermaphroditic organisms for copulation. In social animals, it also includes the raising of their offspring. Copulation is the union of the sex organs of two sexually reproducing animals for insemination and subsequent internal fertilization...

 occurred there. Continued studies have revealed that juvenile sharks also travel to the area, suggesting the trip serves some other purpose.

The sharks tracked to the area came from diverse rookeries along the North America
North America
North America is a continent wholly within the Northern Hemisphere and almost wholly within the Western Hemisphere. It is also considered a northern subcontinent of the Americas...

n coast. They typically took up to 100 days to arrive, traveling around 1m/s, during which they make periodic dives as deep as 3,000 feet. While at the Cafe, they will dive to depths of 1,000 feet as often as once every ten minutes. The purpose of the dives, either along the journey or in the Cafe area, is unknown.

By 2006, researchers had observed consistent migration and other behavior. Tracking data indicates that white sharks will leave feeding grounds near the coast in winter, travel to the Cafe, and some may even summer near Hawaii. But many linger in the "desert" where food is assumed to be scarce, often for months, before returning to the coast in time for the elephant seal
Elephant seal
Elephant seals are large, oceangoing seals in the genus Mirounga. There are two species: the northern elephant seal and the southern elephant seal . Both were hunted to the brink of extinction by the end of the 19th century, but numbers have since recovered...

 breeding season (a favorite prey). Researchers hope that tracking other species such as tuna
Tuna is a salt water fish from the family Scombridae, mostly in the genus Thunnus. Tuna are fast swimmers, and some species are capable of speeds of . Unlike most fish, which have white flesh, the muscle tissue of tuna ranges from pink to dark red. The red coloration derives from myoglobin, an...

 may lead to an explanation based on a mobile food source.

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