Shark Bite First Aid

The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy (AWSC) is pleased to announce a partnership with the Town of Orleans Fire Rescue and Natural Resource Department to provide local surfers and the wider community with 'Stop the Bleed' training that will teach people lifesaving skills. The training sessions, which will be free and open to the general public, will be led by Orleans Fire Rescue beginning on October 18.

The 'Stop the Bleed' program was initiated by a federal interagency workgroup to empower the general public to make a difference in a life-threatening emergency by teaching them the basic techniques of bleeding control. Orleans Fire Rescue, Orleans Natural Resource Department and AWSC are implementing this proactive public training program in response to the two white shark encounters that occurred off the Outer Cape this season, one resulting in a fatality.  

"First response plays a critical role in saving lives. The quick response of two nurses and other willing bystanders who sprang into action on the beach helped save the life of William Lytton after he was bitten by a white shark off Truro," explained Tony Pike, Orleans Fire Chief.

"Even though shark bites are rare, the international shark attack files note that the majority happen to surface recreationalists, which includes surfers, windsurfers, and boogie boarders," said Cynthia Wigren, Atlantic White Shark Conservancy Chief Executive Officer. "We know from local research that the number of white sharks off our coast is high in September and October, during a time when surfers are still out on the water. With no lifeguards or EMTs on the beaches this time of year, a surfer will be dependent on the response of the person(s) nearest to him/her in the event of a shark bite."

Nate Sears, Orleans Natural Resource Manager said, "Most white shark bite victims survive because of first aid initiated from bystanders. If you are a member of the beach community, please take advantage of this opportunity for the free training. You could save a life.”

Local surfer and owner of Vec Surfboards in Orleans shared, "In addition to continuing to explore preventative measures, it's important that surfers are trained to respond to a shark bite. I've completed the training and encourage everyone to go through it as well."

Training sessions are free and open to the public. Courses will be led by Orleans Fire Rescue and offered on October 18, November 1 and November 8 from 7 pm - 8 pm at Atlantic White Shark Conservancy's Shark Center in Chatham. Offering 'Stop the Bleed' training across the lower Cape is an initiative of the regional shark working group. The Town of Wellfleet is offering training on October 19th, with additional town schedules to follow. To register visit:


Shark Working Group Meeting_10/2/18


Shark Working Group Meeting_10/2/18

On Tuesday, October 2, 2018, the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy hosted a shark working group meeting.

The meeting brought together shark experts from MA Division of Marine Fisheries, UMass Dartmouth School for Marine Science & Technology, and University of Florida along with public safety professionals from Cape Cod National Seashore and the towns of Chatham, Orleans, Wellfleet, Truro, Provincetown, Eastham, Dennis, Barnstable, Scituate and Plymouth. The group met to discuss the details of the recent shark incidents off Outer Cape beaches as well as a variety of possible life-saving preventative measures moving forward.

The working group discussed challenges related to shark incidents including limited cell service, incidents occurring after the summer season and/or after hours on ocean facing beaches.

The many topics discussed include how to get reliable cell phone service at the beaches, training and equipping the public with “Stop the Bleed” training and individual shark bite medical kits, continued public safety education, reaching out to, and engaging the the cape hotel/motel and rental community in the safety conversation, purchasing additional ATV/Gator type vehicles that will provide a more efficient way to get the injured off the beach to the ambulance, and various shark detection technologies that are being explored worldwide.

Of concern to the working group was a number of swimmers and surfers were observed in the water ignoring the water closures following the fatal encounter at Newcomb Hollow Beach in Wellfleet. The working group acknowledges that it cannot eliminate all risk but is committed to continue to collaborate on shark knowledge and safety efforts.

Dr. Greg Skomal of the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries explained how a more detailed understanding of coastal topography would help to better understand the nearshore movement of sharks and how the apex predators are utilizing beach areas.

George Burgess former longtime shark program director at the University of Florida made suggestions to the group that included developing seasonal trauma centers on the outer cape.

The shark working group next meeting will occur the third week of October.


Meet some of the locals


Meet some of the locals


June 14th marked the first day of on-the-water research for the scientists and the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy.  While no white sharks were spotted by us or our trusty spotter pilot, Wayne Davis of Ocean Aerials, several nearby receivers attached to shark buoys were downloaded.  Each receiver had registered passes by tagged white sharks, including some of our favorites - Turbo, Sandy, and Omar:


TURBO (1).png

This ~11ft male white shark was tagged in August 2017.  He's super feisty and not bashful (as you can tell from the great close-up).  You can check out what other receivers he may pass throughout the season on Sharktivity.  


SANDY (1).png

Sandy is a ~12ft male who was first ID'd in 2014 by the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries video footage. He was tagged in August of 2015 with an acoustic tag, then tagged last July with a short-term PSAT (Pop-up Satellite Archival Tag) in collaboration with Dr. James Sulikowski's lab at the University of New England.  Keep track of what other receivers he passes throughout the season on Sharktivity.  



He's an ~11ft male white shark who was first ID'd by MADMF in 2014 and was acoustic tagged in July 2016. In July 2018, he added another piece of hardware, a short-term PSAT (Pop-up Satellite Archival Tag) also with Dr. James Sulikowski's lab at the University of New England.  When Omar's in town, he seems to be the "ubiqui-shark" that the research team runs into multiple days in a row and sometimes multiple times in a day!  Perhaps he's a Dr. Skomal's fan?  Keep track of what other receivers Omar passes by this summer on Sharktivity.  

Learn more about white shark research and public safety tips.  Have a great name for a white shark?  Learn how to sponsor a tagged shark.