State Marine Experts Detect White Shark Off Cape Cod Coast
Shark that was tagged in 2011 returns to Massachusetts waters
BOSTON – Friday, June 7, 2013 – On Tuesday, May 28, biologists from the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) detected a white shark off Monomoy. This is a 13-foot female DMF biologists tagged in 2011 that returned the summer of 2012.
This is the first shark detected in Massachusetts waters this year.
The shark, tagged with an acoustic transmitter, was detected by a receiver that state marine biologists placed off Cape Cod in early May. Since 1987, the DMF shark research project has been compiling data on white sharks sighted off the Massachusetts coast.
White sharks are known to feed on seals and researchers speculate that they may be attracted to Massachusetts coastal waters to hunt the growing population of gray seals that migrate here annually.
As summer approaches, state officials stress that beachgoers should use common sense and be aware of their surroundings. DMF advises swimmers to avoid swimming at dawn or dusk, stay close to the shore and avoid areas where seals congregate.
White sharks are predators that may play a key role in controlling the populations of important prey species. As juveniles they consume primarily bony fishes, but shift to larger prey when they grow in excess of 9 feet. Their prey includes other sharks, seals, dolphins, porpoises, and blubber scavenged from whale carcasses. White sharks are thought to grow to lengths in excess of 20 feet, but the largest reliably measured was 21 feet. Females mature between 14 to 17 feet and males between 12 to 14 feet. The maximum accurately recorded weight is close to three tons. Their estimated lifespan can be over 50 years.