CHATHAM – The group working on a five-year population study of great white sharks off the coast of Cape Cod hit the jackpot on Tuesday with two taggings and six or seven more great white sharks spotted in the water.
Cynthia Wigren of the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy, the nonprofit raising money for research on great white sharks was out on the water with Gregory Skomal of the Massachusetts Shark Research Program. Skomal is the state’s great white shark expert who is working on the study.
“We had two sharks that were tagged today, so it was a very exciting day on the water,” Wigren said Tuesday. “There were six or seven sharks that were spotted by our spotter pilot Wayne Davis.”
Of the two sharks tagged, a 12 to 14-foot shark was in the so-called Shark Cove, an area between north and south Monomoy islands, about 100 yards off the beach.
The second great white, a 14 to 15-footer, was tagged right outside the Chatham inlet. “That shark was further off shore, probably a half a mile off shore,” she said.
The group took underwater GoPro footage, which will be examined to determine whether the sharks have been seen previously. Great white sharks can be identified by the distinct white markings on their bellies, as well as nicks and other marks on their fins and bodies.
One of the six or seven other sharks the group spotted, Chex, had been previously tagged.
“That shark seems to spend a lot of time in the same area in the north cut, or inlet, off Chatham.
The two taggings bring the total for this season to four great white sharks. The research gained from the tagging will be used for a five-year population study of sharks off the coast of Cape Cod. This is the first summer for the five-year study and so far the group has made 21 trips out on the waters off Cape Cod looking for great white sharks.
This weeks tagging brings the total number of sharks catalogued by researchers this summer off the coast of Cape Cod to 14.
The two sharks were tagged with two pieces of equipment. The first is an acoustic tag, which is designed to stay on the shark for five years and be picked up on receivers that are set up along the beaches. The second is a data collector tag that is set to come off in March.
Of the six or seven great white sharks spotted by the pilot who works with the researchers, Wigren said, “It’s been very active. Actually the last few trips that we’ve been out, there have been four to six sharks.”