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Great white sharks should be added to endangered species list, groups say (VIDEOS)

Environmental groups urge US to add great whites to endangered species list.

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A Great White shark jumps out of the water as it hunts Cape fur seals near False Bay, on July 4, 2010. (CARL DE SOUZA/AFP/Getty Images)

As Discovery's Shark Week kicks off, environmental activists have petioned the US government to list the declining population of great white sharks off the coast of California as an endangered species.

According to the Los Angeles Times, the petition states that northeastern Pacific Ocean population of great whites is genetically distinct and is considered in danger of becoming extinct. Researchers have estimated that currently that there are 340 mature sharks in the group.

"There could be fewer than 100 breeding females left," said Geoff Shester, the California program director of Oceana, an international group focused on protecting the world's oceans. "Numbers in this range are lower than most species currently listed as endangered."

The petition was filed with the federal National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Friday, UPI reported.  

Great white sharks can live about 30 years and reach a size of 6,600 pounds and a length of 20 feet.

However, generally great white sharks are considered as more of a threat to humans than anything. Earlier this month, Massachusetts had its first great white shark attack since 1936. The New York Times reported that officials in Western Australia are talking about taking great whites off the protected list of vulnerable species after five fatal shark attacks were reported in 10 months.

According to George Burgess, Director of the University of Flordia's International Shark Attack file, you're more likely to die because a coconut fell on your head than because of a shark attack.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/science/wildlife-news/120813/great-white-sharks-should-be-added-the-endangered-species