Tracking Great White Sharks off Cape Cod by Land, by Air, by Sea


Tracking Great White Sharks off Cape Cod by Land, by Air, by Sea

By Jason Kurtis, ABC News

Two days a week, from June through October, the Aleutian leaves the dock of the Chatham Bars Inn in Chatham, Massachusetts, in search of great white sharks.

Marine scientist Greg Skomal of the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries is usually on board armed with two poles: one for filming the elusive predators and another for placing acoustic tags. He's joined by a small crew of researchers and by Atlantic White Shark Conservancy executive director and co-founder Cynthia Wigren.

"The ultimate goal, really, is to learn as much as we can about the species to be able to protect it and support the conservation of white sharks," said Wigren.

A sign in front of the library in the center of Chatham, Massachusetts proclaims "Welcome to Chatham. Summer home of the Great White."

Flying overhead are their eyes in the sky, pilot Wayne Davis. "With every shark that he sees, he's going to give us a call on the radio," said Skomal. "We're going to steam over there as quickly as we can. Once we get up to that shark ... I'll be out on the pulpit, and I'll be waiting to get close to that shark."

In front of the library in the center of town is a sign proclaiming, "Welcome to Chatham. Summer home of the great white," and Wigren said she has seen a shift in attitude.

"People are starting feel like these are our sharks," she said. Signs at the entrance to the beach alert swimmers and beachgoers about the presence of great whites, encouraging people to take the proper precautions when they're in or on the water.

Skomal said, "People aren't running away in fear. They're flocking to the beach in fascination."

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Great white shark tracking goes mobile


Great white shark tracking goes mobile

By Shachar Peled, CNN

Northeast beachgoers are no strangers to shark sightings. Now they can share news of those sightings in real time with friends -- and scientists.

A new mobile app called Sharktivity allows users to track where sharks have been seen along the coast. They can also submit their own sightings.

There is science behind the app, too. Sharktivity is being launched by the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy, a Massachusetts-based nonprofit that works to protect white sharks, also known as great whites. And it was developed in part by marine biologist Gregory Skomal, who has worked at the state's Division of Marine Fisheries for 29 years.

Skomal and his team plan to vet each sighting that is submitted.

    The app includes the locations of some of the 80 sharks that researchers have already tagged. So far, it's available only for iPhone users.

    "Most people have phones with them at the beach, and the reasoning is getting information to them as soon as possible," said Conservancy President Cynthia Wigren. She said the app could be useful for not just beachgoers, but also boaters, fishermen and even pilots along the East Coast.

    Until now, lifeguards and emergency responders could notify others of a shark sighting or incident only after the fact, according to Leslie Reynolds, chief ranger for the Cape Cod National Seashore.

    With the app, Reynolds said, the public can "report shark sightings in real time and receive alerts in real time."

    The app also includes shark safety tips and a button to let users donate money to shark research.

    The Division of Marine Fisheries holds a database of great white shark sightings that dates back to the 1800s, Skomal said. Information from the app can help them expand their records, he said.

    There has been a significant growth in the Cape Cod great white shark population in recent years, up from 68 in 2014 to 141 in 2015.

    At the same time, Reynolds says lifeguards have been reporting an increase in visitors, recording more than 1 million annual beachgoers during the 10- to 12-week summer period in the past three years.

    "People are interested and want to see them, asking lifeguards about the sharks," Reynolds said.

    According to the Global Shark Attack File, there were 59 shark attacks in the United States in 2015, with one fatality in Hawaii.

    Wigren said the app should not draw people into harm's way.

    "We clearly cannot control what the public does, but hopefully with this information, people will be more aware and cautious," she said.


    Cape Cod National Seashore Hosts Cape Cod Shark Work Group


    Cape Cod National Seashore Hosts Cape Cod Shark Work Group

    On Tuesday, January 12, 2016, Cape Cod National Seashore hosted a shark work group meeting. The meeting brought together public safety professionals from Cape Cod National Seashore and the towns of Plymouth, Chatham, Orleans, Eastham, Wellfleet, Truro, and Provincetown, along with the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy, to continue to collaborate on shark knowledge and safety efforts.

    Dr. Greg Skomal of Massachusetts Marine Fisheries presented the latest preliminary information of white shark movements, population study and predatory behavior.Dr. Alison Kock, Lead Scientist for the Shark Spotter Program, Cape Town, South Africa, gave an in depth look at the evolution, successes and challenges ofher cities shark spotter program.

    Dr. Kock's visit was sponsored by the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy.Workgroup members expressed their appreciation to Cynthia Wigren, President &Co-Founder of the Conservancy for her efforts to bring in Dr. Kock's expertise from a region of the world which has extensive experience with serious shark/swimmer interaction.Dr. Kock reviewed Cape Town's approach toward white shark species protection as well as public safety efforts.

    Seashore Superintendent George Price said, "We very much appreciate the continuing efforts of the multi-town and agency shark work group to keep up with the latest information about white shark behavior near our swimming beaches and to learn from communities which have been dealing with white sharks for a long time.We are fortunate to have Dr. Skomal, Dr. Kock, and Ms. Wigren share their knowledge with this group."Members of this multi-town and agency group continue to share innovative ways to message shark safety to the public and learn from leading shark experts to inform us on the most current scientific information to help guide our proactive public safety education, awareness and response.

    The national seashore, the towns of Cape Cod and the Islands, the Massachusetts Shark Research Program, and the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy have worked together to produce shark advisory signs for beaches, and brochures that provide education and safety tips for beach users.Brochures about shark information may be obtained at all National Park Service beaches and can be found seen on the park's website at