By Richard Alleyne on Telegraph.co.uk
Great White Sharks are now even more endangered than tigers, according to a leading marine biologist.
Fewer great white sharks are left in the oceans than there are tigers surviving on Earth
Dr Ronald O'Dor, senior scientist at the Census of Marine life, said that a new study had shown that numbers had dropped below the 3,500 tigers that exist in the wild.
Scientists had been under the impression that Great Whites, although rare, were not endangered, because they were spotted at different areas all over the ocean.
But a new study by Stanford University, which involved tagging and tracking the fish, discovered that it was the same sharks being seen over and over again.
Dr O’Dor said: "I recently heard a report from the team that's been tagging Great White sharks.
“When I heard there maybe fewer than tigers I thought “oh my god” That is truly scary.
The estimated total population of great white sharks in the world oceans is actually less than the number of tigers.
"We hear an awful lot about how endangered tigers are but apparently great white sharks are pretty close to the same level.
“Some people say I don't care, they eat people, but I think we have to give them a little space to live in.”
His comments, made at the American Association for the Advancement of Science conference in San Diego, were based on research by Professor Barbara Block who tracked more than 150 Great Whites using satellite and acoustic tracking devices as they moved along the Californian coast and Hawaii.
"Based on their understanding on populations, they have done some estimates of how many sharks there are,” he said.
"People see a Great White shark on the South California coast - and another hundreds of miles away.
“We are now understanding that they are more mobile than we thought - and actually it's the same shark appearing in different places.”
He said Great Whites, whose numbers have dropped by 90 per cent in 20 years are not only in danger from illegal fishing but also from being hit by boats and tangled up in fishing nets.
"Until recently, people thought sharks were bad and there was no urge to save great whites,” he said.
“Now people are beginning to understand that they are rare and that they are a wonderful species.”
He said that the tags had been used in Australia to act as early warning systems for surfers and swimmers.
He said: "The Australians have now got a system where they put tags on Great White sharks and they have receivers on the beaches so when a great white comes into the bay the receiver automatically makes a cell phone call and tells the guy in charge to close the beach. So we can co-exist with marine life."