Studying Cape Cod's Great White Sharks

Studying Cape Cod's Great White Sharks

Great white sharks have a reputation problem. Many see the animals as bloodthirsty man-eaters, which is far from the truth. But, there are still unanswered questions about great whites, and until we better understand them as a species, we're going to continue to have human-shark interactions with the potential for fatal consequences.

That's why the work of our non-profit partner, the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy, is so important. The organization, located on Cape Cod, is on a mission to gather data from the area's great whites to understand their mating, feeding, and migration habits to keep both the sharks and the public safe. 

This fall, AWSC, the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, and the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth School for Marine Sciences wrapped up a five-year-long study of great whites in the waters surrounding Cape Cod. Twice a week, the team used a spotter plane to find the sharks, then deployed boats to their locations to tag them. Since 2009, AWSC has tagged 150 great whites in the area. 

Now that the field study is complete, the team will analyze the data and hopes to pinpoint the number of great white sharks living in Cape Cod's waters. The data will be used to estimate the future of great whites in the area and where the hotspots are, helping to prevent human-shark run-ins. 

There are persistent myths that sharks seek out humans as their meals. In reality, the overwhelming driving force in shark bites is that the shark mistook the person for prey, like a seal. By understanding what factors, like water temperature or the tide, drive sharks closer to shore, Cape Cod towns can better manage beaches and prevent interactions with sharks. 

Whenever we enter the ocean, we need to remember to respect the locals and heed the advice of organizations like AWSC. After all, the ocean is the sharks' home and we're just swimming in it. 

15% of profits from our Great White Clasp, Half Great White Clasp, and Great White Shark Ring are donated directly to the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy. These donations support the important research work of AWSC to protect sharks and their education efforts to keep swimmers, surfers, boaters, and other ocean lovers safe.

Photo by Terry Gross