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Watch out for white sharks: here’s where (and when) you’re most likely to encounter them

This shark was spotted off of Sandy Neck Beach in Barnstable in July 2020.Atlantic White Shark Conservancy

Summer is here, and so are the sharks.

On Wednesday experts at the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy explained where white sharks have been seen the most in Massachusetts waters.

“We’ve said it a hundred times: the chances of you dying in your car are so much higher than being bit by a white shark, so keep it in relative perspective, in terms of the risk,” said Gregory Skomal of the state Division of Marine Fisheries. “But if you are a person who says, ‘You know what, I don’t want to take that risk of being bitten by a shark.’ Well, where’s that most likely to happen? Along the outer Cape, parts of Cape Cod Bay, particularly the eastern side of Cape Cod Bay during peak season.”


Skomal said the peak season for white sharks in these waters is August, September, and October.

Megan Winton, staff scientist at the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy, said white sharks spend a lot of time hunting for seals in water that’s not very deep.

“It’s very much a game kind of cat and mouse. Sharks have to be really patient. They spend a lot of time in shallow water close to shore, patrolling for seals,” she said.

The conservancy late Wednesday afternoon posted a video to its Facebook page showing a white shark preying on a seal off Race Point Beach in Provincetown.

They said the latest research showed that along the coast of Cape Cod, white sharks spent almost half (47 percent) of their time at depths of less than 15 feet.

Skomal and Winton also spoke about their latest tagging and monitoring efforts.

Last season Skomal worked with the Conservancy to attach 39 acoustic tags and 10 camera tags to white sharks off Cape Cod.

The camera tags “give us direct observations of what the shark is doing because they have cameras built into them,” Skomal said. “They also have sensors that give us temperature, depth, in addition to the characteristics of the movements of these animals....they tell us when they’re accelerating in three dimensional space, the direction they’re going in... we can look at behavioral patterns over the course of a couple of days.”


Winton echoed those sentiments about the insight they’ve gained from the camera tags.

“This is an incredible piece of technology,” she said. “You can think of it as like an activity tracker app for a shark.”

The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy’s Sharktivity app, which tracks shark sightings, has logged multiple white shark sightings over the past few days, including one that resulted in a temporary closure of a beach in Truro on Tuesday afternoon. The shark was seen in the water at Head of the Meadow Beach and the beach was closed for swimming for an hour, town officials said.

Emily Sweeney can be reached at Follow her @emilysweeney and on Instagram @emilysweeney22.