Ocean eddies are not like the whirlpools found around rocks in rivers for example, but tend to be large whirlpools in the ocean that spin clockwise north of the equator. Scientists found, surprisingly enough, that the great whites tend to prefer these areas in the Gulf Stream and the North Atlantic, according to a news release from the University of Washington.
The new study from the university and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution looked at the tracking data from two adult female sharks and found they tend to spend more time than expected inside these deep, slowly spinning eddies.
“These eddies are everywhere; they cover 30 percent of the ocean’s surface,” lead study author Peter Gaube, a senior oceanographer at UW’s Applied Physics Laboratory, said in a statement.
“It’s like what you see if you’re walking along a river, and these eddies form behind rocks, but it happens on a different scale in the ocean. Instead of being a little thing that disappears after a few seconds, they can be the size of the state of Massachusetts, and can persist for months to years. You could be in the middle of an eddy in a ship and you’d probably never know it. The water may be a little warmer, and it could be a little clearer, but otherwise you wouldn’t know,” he said.
NASA Earth Observatory/Flickr
A satellite image of the North Atlantic Ocean in spring 2015. The swirls show the location of eddies, which have marine life that reflects green light. New research shows that great white sharks gravitate toward warm water eddies.
Amos Nachoun / Barcroft USA / Getty Images/Barcroft Media via Getty Images
This photograph of a great white shark was taken off Guadalupe Island, Mexico, by adventure photographer Amos Nachoum.
Gaube said it’s important to learn about great whites and their behaviors.