Why White Sharks?

 
Image by Wayne Davis

Image by Wayne Davis

Our ocean’s ecosystem is all connected...from the tiniest zooplankton to the largest apex predator. As top predators, white sharks play a critical regulatory role in maintaining the health of our ocean’s ecosystem. Predators exert 'top-down' influences on food webs by influencing the abundance, distribution, and behavior of prey species. When apex predators are absent, food web dynamics can be disrupted - populations of prey species can grow unchecked and may in turn limit populations of their prey. This type of predator-prey imbalance can 'cascade' all the way to the bottom of the food web, which means that top predators not only influence populations of their prey but ultimately the structure of the entire ecosystem. While white sharks have long been scarce in the region, they are the only natural predator of seals in the in the coastal waters along Cape Cod. It is currently unclear what impact the emerging white shark population will have on growing seal populations, but re-introductions of predators in other ecosystems have resulted in beneficial, and often surprising, changes.