Shark Sightings Off Nauset Beach Intrigue Researchers

A great white shark.

A great white shark.

ORLEANS – Great white shark sightings continue in the waters off the coast of the Cape. Nine have been recorded in the past week, according to leading shark researchers.

On Tuesday, researchers from the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy twice detected the presence of a great white shark. In addition, great white sharks were seen by recreational boaters and by researchers over the past several days in the waters around Cape Cod.

Conservancy President and co-founder Cynthia Wigren said it’s not clear whether some of the great white sharks detected were the same fish.

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She said there was one great white shark detected on Cape Cod Bay and two detected from the air by a spotter pilot during a study earlier this week and a third Tuesday by the pilot. In addition four great white sharks have been detected on receivers in the past couple of days.

The ninth shark that Wigren is aware of was sighted this past weekend in waters off Nauset Beach. A family out on a boat came across a great white shark and documented the encounter in a video posted online.

Shark Video

“They spent about an hour with that shark,” she said.

The spotter pilot’s sighting is part of the study that the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy is working on this summer from the tip of Monomoy to Truro.

A spotter  observed a shark in the area of Chatham, while a receiver in waters off Orleans detected a shark that had previously been tagged.

Wigren says while it may seem like there are more sharks in the waters than usual, their research has not backed that theory up.

“The information that they’re detecting right now is consistent with what scientists have seen in years past,” she said. “People feel that there are a lot more sharks in the area, but that’s not necessarily the case.”

The research on great white sharks is being conducted by the Massachusetts Shark Research Program and the conservancy is funding the research. The conservancy paid for an array of receivers and buoys to go in the water this season. What they do is detect sharks that have been previously tagged.

“It’s a really good way of getting information about sharks you might not see,” she said. “It tells the scientists if the sharks are showing sight fidelity or residency in certain areas.”

This season, Wigren said, for a population study the conservatory is helping with, the receivers are also giving information on what sharks are here this summer.

Currently there are four different sharks that have been detected on the receivers, Wigren said. The first one was detected on June 13 and the most recent one was detected on Tuesday when the boat was out on the water.

The researchers are out twice a week looking for great whites, Wigren said.