Jan. 29 (UPI) -- Marine researchers in California said a newborn great white shark was caught on camera in the wild for the first time.
The University of California said wildlife filmmaker Carlos Gauna and UC Riverside biology doctoral student Phillip Sternes were in waters near Santa Barbara when they captured drone footage of the 5-foot-long shark pup.
The pup was entirely white, contrasting with the color of adult great whites, which are white on the bottom and gray on top.
"We enlarged the images, put them in slow motion, and realized the white layer was being shed from the body as it was swimming," Sternes said in a news release. "I believe it was a newborn white shark shedding its embryonic layer."
The school said the encounter marked the first time a newborn great white shark had been observed in the wild.
"Where white sharks give birth is one of the holy grails of shark science. No one has ever been able to pinpoint where they are born, nor has anyone seen a newborn baby shark alive," Gauna said. "There have been dead white sharks found inside deceased pregnant mothers. But nothing like this."
The duo, who published the observations in a paper in the Environmental Biology of Fishes journal, admitted the shark may have been shedding due to a skin condition rather than being newborn.
"If that is what we saw, then that too is monumental because no such condition has ever been reported for these sharks," Gauna said.