FACES OF CAPE COD – Dr. Greg Skomal, Shark Expert

There’s a pretty good chance you’ve seen last year’s video footage of a man standing at the end of a boat’s pulpit, preparing to tag a shark, when a 12-foot great white actually breached right beneath his feet. More recently, you’ve likely seen him on the Discovery Channel for this year’s Shark Week episodes. Shark Week is television’s longest-running, and most anticipated summer event, and Dr. Greg Skomal is the go-to expert in his field.

In recent years, Skomal has become the face of all things shark-related here on Cape Cod. He has been interviewed in abundance, and relied upon heavily for his knowledge of this seemingly more-frequent offshore visitor. He is an expert in his field, and his interest in sharks began early.

“I’ve been fascinated by the ocean, and specifically sharks, since I was a kid, thanks to the movie ‘Jaws’ and ocean explorers, like Jacques Cousteau,” Skomal said. “I decided to study marine biology in college and chose URI for that purpose. I then moved on to advanced degrees to further pursue this career.”

Skomal received a bachelor’s degree and master’s degree from URI, as well as his PhD from Boston University. He has been working for the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries for more than 31 years. In recent years, Cape Cod has provided Skomal and his team with a unique opportunity to research and study great whites more than ever before.

Skomal and his associate, John Chisholm, were the first to successfully tag and track great whites in the Northwest Atlantic Ocean using high-tech tags through the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy. The organization now has the ability to track local and long-range movements, study behavior and biology, and estimate population size of great whites in the area.

His early years in shark-chasing were also impressive. Skomal began his career as a technician, working for the NMFS Apex Predators Investigation, in Narragansett, RI. This entry-level position, he said, kicked off his training to become a fisheries biologist.

“My interest in shark research, as it relates to fisheries, is driven by my desire to produce results that are directly applicable to sustainable management of these resources,” he said. “I like all aspects of my job, but our white shark research is the most riveting, as we are making new discoveries about these fish almost every day.”

When he’s not out on the wild waters of the great Atlantic, Skomal lives with his family in Marion, MA, where they enjoy spending time together doing outdoor things, including hiking and, of course, fishing.

Although his proper title in his industry may be “Program Manager and Senior Scientist for the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries,” around these parts, Greg Skomal is the shark expert.

About Ann Luongo

Ann Luongo has been writing for Cape Cod and South Shore publications for over 15 years.

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