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DMF white shark research collaboration with the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy

Fact Sheet on the support donated by the The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy

Since 2013 the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy (AWSC) has donated support for the ongoing white shark research being conducted by the Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) in Massachusetts waters.  Learn more below about DMF’s white shark research and DMF’s relationship to the AWSC.

DMF’s White Shark Research Activities

In 2018, DMF completed the field component of a 5-year study, in collaboration with the University of Massachusetts School for Marine Science and Technology (SMAST), to estimate the population size and local abundance of white sharks in Massachusetts waters using traditional and innovative mark-recapture techniques.  DMF’s white shark research activities have generated enormous public interest and been regularly featured in the media, including television documentaries.  DMF commenced a new white shark research effort beginning in the summer of 2019 with the goal of furthering its understanding of the movement ecology, behavior, and natural history of white sharks off the coast of Massachusetts, with special emphasis on public safety.

DMF relies on funding and support from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, SMAST, and several private, nonprofit organizations for this important research.  One of the nonprofit organizations providing critical support for DMF’s implementation of its white shark research is the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy (AWSC).  In 2017, DMF and the AWSC entered into a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) that set forth the commitments and protocols related to the AWSC’s donated support of DMF’s white shark research.  The MOA was extended and updated in 2019 in response to DMF’s new white shark research effort.

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About the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy

Based in Chatham, MA, the AWSC was established in 2012 and provides support, both within Massachusetts and beyond, for scientific research, public education, conservation efforts, and public safety initiatives related to white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias), whose presence in the Commonwealth’s near shore coastal waters has grown significantly in recent years.  Because of its mission, the AWSC offered to support DMF’s white shark research activities.  To that end, the AWSC has donated vessel time, spotter pilot services, the deployment and retrieval of moored acoustic receivers and buoys purchased by the AWSC, as well as thousands of volunteer hours associated with all these activities to DMF since 2013.

The AWSC also supports research by other entities other than DMF, including the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, SMAST, University of New England, and Fisheries and Oceans Canada. The AWSC leads a public education effort through its Chatham Shark Center, including with technical advice from Dr. Gregory Skomal.  Dr. Skomal is the senior DMF marine fisheries scientist and internationally recognized shark expert who leads DMF’s ongoing white shark research.  Dr. Skomal has participated in AWSC-sponsored events as one, but not the exclusive, forum for publicizing DMF’s white shark research.

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Public access to DMF-generated white shark data, images, and video

White shark research information, data and other records generated by DMF is in the public domain and available to the public upon request, unless DMF determines that the information requires further internal review before becoming final for distribution to the public.  DMF-created still photographs and video of its shark research activities while using vessels donated by the AWSC, contain dual watermarks: the first identifies DMF as the source of the image or video (“Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries”); the second acknowledges the support of the AWSC (“Research supported by Atlantic White Shark Conservancy”). 

Other images or video created by the AWSC or its contractors, not DMF, are available for viewing on the AWSC’s social media outlets. 

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