Figure rises for second consecutive year, says Massachusetts’ top shark expert, warning of ‘public safety issue’ despite no deaths in state’s waters since 1936
Associated Press in Boston
Sunday 12 March 2017 15.20 GMT Last modified on Monday 13 March 2017 12.26 GMT
Great white sharks are swimming toward the waters off Massachusetts in rising numbers, scientists say, after a second consecutive year showing an increase in predators to Cape Cod.
The latest data from a multiyear study of the ocean predators found that the number of sharks in waters off the vacation haven appeared to be on the rise, said Greg Skomal, a senior scientist with the Massachusetts division of marine fisheries, and the state’s top shark expert.
The sharks are after seals, not humans, and towns are using the information from the study to keep it that way. “How long does it stay and where does it go are the questions we’re trying to answer,” Skomal said. “But for the towns, it’s a public safety issue.”
Researchers using a plane and boats spotted 147 individual white sharks last summer. That was up slightly from 2015, but significantly more than the 80 individual sharks spotted in 2014, the first year of the study, funded by the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy.
More than half the white sharks spotted last summer had not previously been documented by this study.
Researchers have also tagged more than 100 to track their movements.
The white shark population was probably significantly larger, because the scientists could not possibly spot all of them, Skomal said.
Two of the more interesting findings are the increasing number of young sharks, and that they appear to be swimming farther afield.