DNA confirms a great white shark bit California boy

DNA testing has revealed the shark that attacked a 13-year-old boy last month off a Southern California shore was a great white, according to a report.

Scientists gathered the shark’s DNA by swabbing the wet suit Keane Webre-Hayes wore when he was bitten while diving for lobsters near Encinitas, the San Diego Union-Tribune reported Wednesday.

The bite on Sept. 29 tore his back, shoulder, torso, face and ear. The teen was released from a hospital after surgery and is expected to make a full recovery.

Witnesses estimated the shark was about 11 feet (3 meters) long.

Chris Lowe, director of Long Beach State University’s Shark Lab, said in a statement that while “shark bite incidents are exceedingly rare,” swimmers should be aware that more large sharks move along the coast during the fall season. Southern California is a known nursery area for white sharks.

The lab test used to confirm the DNA is similar to a new procedure being developed that can detect a shark’s environmental DNA in ocean water samples, the newspaper said. Environmental DNA — or eDNA — can be found in cellular materials left behind by sharks and other animals.

Researchers hope to develop a species-specific test that could be used by lifeguards to detect what type of sharks have been in an area based on testing water samples.

That, along with current monitoring efforts such as aerial surveillance and tracking tagged sharks, could give lifeguards and biologists a better idea what sharks are in an area and help authorities warn swimmers about potential dangers.

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Information from: The San Diego Union-Tribune, http://www.utsandiego.com

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