CHATHAM – Over the last three years off the coast of Cape Cod, researchers have identified 257 different great white sharks.
The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy released its 2016 identification figures this month which include 89 new marine predators to the region.
Conservancy executive director Cynthia Wigren says the number of sharks documented since the start of the state’s Division of Marine Fisheries five-year population study are higher than most people expected.
“The conservancy didn’t have an expectation of numbers,” Wigren said. “More so just realizing the significance of the study – what if means for the conservation of the species, but also directly related to public safety.”
Many decisions being made by local public safety officials are being made based on the figures collected in this study.
Wigren said the study is important because it is the first of its kind.
“It really sets a baseline for future conservation efforts,” she said. “We’re excited to be a part of funding and promoting this study that is being conducted by the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries and it really will give insight into the number of sharks that are visiting the Cape every year.”
Researchers did not have any expectations of shark numbers before starting the study in 2014, but they did believe the number of sharks coming to the region were increasing.
“We know that this is an area where there’s predictable access to the white sharks so it really provides a unique opportunity for the scientists here to be studying this population,” Wigren said.
Researchers tagged 23 white sharks off Cape Cod last year bringing the three year total during the study over 100.
Wigren said researchers are still crunching the data on the shark movements in 2016.
Two years remain in the population study.
By BRIAN MERCHANT, CapeCod.com NewsCenter