Drone Photographer Captures ‘First-Ever’ Footage of Newborn Great White Shark

A drone photographer may have captured the first-ever footage of a newborn great white shark off the coast of Southern California.

Carlos Gauna who goes by The Malibu Artist on YouTube captured the footage back in July while he was with shark researcher Phil Sternes from the University of California.

“I’m like, ‘oh my goodness, this could be a newborn’,” Sternes tells the BBC. “We’re both falling out of our seats with excitement at that point. It was quite a moment.”

The Telltale Signs of a Newborn Baby White Shark

The footage of the shark filmed on a beach near Santa Barbara in July immediately caught the pair’s attention because the shark looked almost albino.

Baby great white shark
Carlos Gauna/The Malibu Artist

It could be that the shark’s all-white skin is a result of just being born and on Gauna’s footage, the white layer appears to be flaking off.

Another clue noticed by Sternes was the shark’s rounded fin which is something seen in shark embryos and newborns.

Earlier this month, PetaPixel covered Gauna’s favorite shark drone clips of 2023 which contains the miraculous footage. But now the observation has been published in the Environmental Biology of Fishes journal.

The BBC notes that some marine biologists are cautious about Gauna’s footage with Dr. Chis Lowe from California State Univeristy’s shark lab saying there could be alternative explanations for the white layer.

“Sure, this could be a newborn shark, or it could be a shark with a skin disease, or it could be a number of other things we haven’t even thought of,” he says.

“Unfortunately, it’s a sample size of one. I think many scientists would agree that in order for us to consider this area of pupping location, we would need a lot more evidence.”

Citizen Scientist

Gauna has been extremely active studying sharks using his drone off the Californian coast which he describes as viewing them “through a magnifying glass that they don’t know is watching them.”

The filmmaker says he’s been shocked to find that there are “multiple interactions” between sharks and humans every day and there are far more great whites out there swimming close to humans than people realize.

Last year, Gauna demonstrated how great white sharks will chase his drone’s shadow in much the same way a cat will chase a laser pointer.

Image credits: Carlos Gauna/The Malibu Artist