Despite the enormous scientific and public interest in white sharks, large gaps in our understanding of this species remain. Cape Cod has become an aggregation site for great white sharks, presenting a rare and incredible research opportunity.
“For the first time, modern scientists have predictable access to white sharks in the North Atlantic and the ability to study their life history and ecology over multiple spatial and temporal scales,” explains leading shark expert, Dr. Greg Skomal. “Without a strong sense of how many white sharks exist in this area or how many are being killed, the time to act is now.”
White sharks have been studied in California and other areas of the world for over two decades. However, on the east coast of the United States there is very little known about this species. In 2009, Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries biologists, Dr. Greg Skomal and John Chisholm were the first to successfully tag and track great whites in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean using high tech tags. We now have the ability to track local and long range movements, study behavior and biology, and begin a population estimate.
The Massachusetts Shark Research Program relies on outside funding to conduct research. By taking action now and making a tax deductible donation through AWSC, you can give scientists the resources needed to continue and expand these critical studies.
About Dr. Greg Skomal
Dr. Greg Skomal has been a senior fisheries biologist with Massachusetts Marine Fisheries since 1987 and currently heads up the Massachusetts Shark Research Program (MSRP). He is also adjunct faculty at the University of Massachusetts School for Marine Science and Technology in New Bedford, MA. Greg's shark research has spanned multiple fish habitats around the globe. Much of his current research centers on the use of acoustic telemetry, satellite-based technology, and animal-borne imaging to assess the physiological impacts of capture stress on the post-release survivorship and behavior of sharks.
About John Chisholm
John Chisholm knew he wanted to be shark biologist by the age of 4. He has worked for the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries for the last 23 years. John is part of the Massachusetts Shark Research Program (MSRP). Through MSRP, John is involved in the study of the life history and ecology of sharks. His current research centers on the use of acoustic telemetry to assess the behavior of white sharks along the coast of Cape Cod.
ONGOING COLLABORATIVE PROJECTS
MSRP is collaborating with several institutions and researchers on the following white shark studies. In some cases, AWSC funds have been and will be used to provide samples for these studies.
I. Fine-scale behavior and post-release recovery in white sharks
N. Whitney, C. White, R. Hueter - Center for Shark Research, Mote Marine Laboratory
II. Environmental contaminants endangering white sharks
R. Hueter, D. Wetzel - Center for Shark Research, Mote Marine Laboratory
III. Aspects of reproduction in white sharks
J. Gelsleichter, M. McCallister, B. Anderson - University of North Florida
IV. The trophic ecology of white sharks in the western North Atlantic
S. Thorrold, L. Hamady – Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution
V. Studies of ectoparasites of white sharks
G. Benz – Middle Tennessee State University
VI. A comparative analysis of DNA sequence variation in the white shark within and among ocean basins
G. Naylor – College of Charleston
VII. Pharmaceuticals and related endocrine disruptors in white sharks from U.S. Atlantic waters
D. Adams – Cape Canaveral Scientific, Inc.
VIII. Health and nutritional markers in white sharks sampled in the western North Atlantic
L. Hoopes, Tonya Clauss – Georgia Aquarium