Shark Researchers to Focus on Cape Cod Bay This Summer


CHATHAM – If you thought that setting up the beach chairs along Cape Cod Bay would get you out of the reach of sharks, think again.

While state and private research groups have devoted all the attention to great white sharks on the Atlantic side of the Cape, an increase in sightings of juvenile great whites has caused a shift of focus.

“Part of the reason that we’re focusing some effort in Cape Cod Bay this summer is because over the past couple of years we’ve had increasing reports of sightings of white sharks in the bay. We also know from the tagging data collected by the Division of Marine Fisheries to date, that a good proportion of the sharks that have been tagged on the outer coast of the Cape move into Cape Cod Bay,” said Megan Winton, Research Scientist at the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy.

“So, it’s an important to get an idea of if sharks tagged in Cape Cod Bay are going to use the area in the same way that sharks on the outer coast of the Cape do.”

Researchers with the state’s Division of Marine Fisheries, the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy, and other groups have cited numerous reports from commercial and civilian boaters of great whites in the bay as reasons to dedicate research to the area.

The exact reason for the occupation of Cape Cod Bay by juvenile great whites has yet to be determined. The same could be said for the migration of some mature sharks to the bay during.

“We’re going to be splitting our research effort between Cape Cod Bay and the Outer Cape, where we’ve been working pretty intensely for the last five years,” Winton said.

“The work we’re going to be doing in Cape Cod Bay this summer, you can think of it as an extension of the tagging work that Greg Skomal and others at the Division of Marine Fisheries started back in 2009 when they started tagging white sharks off the coast of Cape Cod.”

Last year, the Outer Cape was struck by two shark attacks in one month on its Atlantic-facing beaches. On August 15, a 61-year-old New York man was bit at Long Nook Beach in Truro and was rushed to a Boston hospital in serious condition. He has since recovered.

Exactly one month later, on September 15, 26-year-old Arthur Medici, of Revere, was fatally attacked while surfing at Newcomb Hollow Beach in Wellfleet. He was pronounced dead upon arrival to Cape Cod Hospital. It was the first fatal shark attack in Massachusetts since 1936, when a shark killed a man in Mattapoisett.

By TIM DUNN, News Center 

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