Species

Sep 08, 2014

More in the news: Great Whites off MA shores

Species

It’s been in the news more and more each summer: Great Whites are back and as this recent headline shows, they are hanging around in some of our favorite swimming, boating and fishing spots.

Many people are wondering: why the recent influx of Great Whites in the waters off Cape Cod? This recent Boston Globe article gets to the root of why we are seeing more and more reports of sightings and incidents each year. 

Greg Skomal, a senior fisheries biologist in the state’s marine fisheries division, said as the seal population has burgeoned, the animals have spread to new areas, bringing along the sharks into less familiar waters.

“As they grow, they expand to find areas that are suitable,” he said. “And the sharks follow.”

If you’ve vacationed off the cape in recent years, you’ve most likely spotted a seal or two on your travels.  Or, if you vacationed in one of the hot spots like Chatham, you’ve seem more than a few of this favorite food source for great whites:

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As the great whites follow their lunch into more and more areas, vacationers and locals need to maintain a heightened sense of awareness while enjoying the water on the Cape.  Avoid areas where seals congregate, and swimming in early dawn or dusk hours is not recommended.

“We strongly urge people to keep an eye out for seals while at the beach or on the water, as sharks may be nearby,” state environmental officials said in an advisory. “Avoid swimming at dusk or dawn, in very deep waters, or in areas of seal congregation.”

Dual federal protection for both seals and great whites have helped these populations grow at record speeds, with great white populations as high as 70% of their historic levels. Both protected from hunting since the 1970s, these levels will most likely continue to rise in coming years as both populations continue to thrive here in local waters.

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