By Cheri Carlson
Scientists still have a lot to learn about great white sharks, but federal officials say the sometimes-elusive ocean predator likely won't face extinction anytime soon.
That decision came after a months long study into the northeastern Pacific Ocean white shark -- a population found off the West Coast, from Mexico to the Bering Sea. The study into the sharks' status was prompted by two petitions to list the species as endangered.
Researchers, however, said they found the white sharks' population stable or even increasing.
"(The) population is not in danger of extinction and does not warrant listing under the Endangered Species Act," according to a statement this week from the National Marine Fisheries Service.
The review indicated more than 200 adult female sharks in the population, a number that's above what would have triggered concerns about extinction, said Heidi Dewar, a Fisheries research biologist.
But petitioners disagreed with the findings, calling them overly optimistic.
"We think it is a bad decision and flies in the face of the best available science," said Geoff Shester, California's program director for Oceana, one of the petitioners. They plan to review the agency's findings and look at options, which could include filing suit.
"Ultimately, this battle is far from over," Shester said. More....