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Researchers spot first great white shark of the season

JJKING2

A recent sighting in Maine over the weekend may have been a bust. But on Monday, researchers on Cape Cod encountered the first great white shark of the summer season.

The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy, a nonprofit group that specializes in shark research and education, snapped images of a 15-foot great white swimming off the coast of Orleans, near South Beach. Researchers said the shark came within 100 to 200 yards of the shore.

The sex of the shark has not been determined, but researchers said they captured underwater footage of the animal swimming through the waters, and will examine the video to determine if it is a male or female. They posted photos of the interaction with the shark on Twitter and Facebook.

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Dr. Greg Skomal, a senior biologist with the state Division of Marine Fisheries, predicted that the sharks would start appearing near the coastline as early as July, so Monday's sighting marked an early arrival for the saltwater predator.

Skomal is working closely with the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy to track the animals as they cruise into Massachusetts waters.

State shark experts expect that this year's shark sightings will surpass last season's, when 68 were spotted and 18 were tagged off of Cape Cod.

To keep people safe from the predatory ocean giants, officials from the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries this month issued new regulations to stop people from illegally attracting the great whites using chum or seal decoys.