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Researchers spot large, unruly great white off Cape

Reasearchers captured an image of the shark from above.
Reasearchers captured an image of the shark from above. Atlantic White Shark Conservancy

Researchers on a twice-weekly shark boat excursion on Tuesday spotted an approximately 16-foot great white — one of the largest specimens they have seen this summer.

Officials with the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy captured an image of the massive predator from above the area between the Nauset Inlet and Coast Guard Beach.

Cynthia Wigren, president of the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy, which funds research in the region, said most sharks that the group encounters are significantly smaller at about 12 feet.

Only three sightings this year have revealed such a large shark, she said. This one was so unruly that researchers were unable to place a tracking tag on it.


“We typically see the larger sharks are a little bit calmer around the boat ... so they’re typically easier to tag than the smaller ones that tend to get a bit nervous,” she said. “This shark wasn’t as well behaved as most of the larger ones, so we didn’t have an opportunity.”

The conservancy’s shark research began in 2009. Since then, the largest shark spotted was a female named Curly, who was 18 feet long. She was seen first in 2010, and then again in 2012, Wigren said.

The first shark spotted this season, seen on June 22, was also very large at about 15 feet. This summer, researchers also spotted James, a 15-to-16-foot shark tagged and named last summer.

“We’ve been out on two trips each week since mid-June, and this is only the third shark in this size range that we’ve seen,” Wigren said.

Researchers are still reviewing the underwater footage taken Tuesday, which will help them record unique characteristics and allow them to identify the shark in the future.

Though sharks were most active last September, Wigren said, August has been most active this summer.

On one trip last month, researchers spotted 19 sharks, a record for this summer.


Wigren said her organization is gathering information about the shark population through a study that began last summer.

“We’re going to want to look more than just this year and last year,” Wigren said. “That’s the significance of supporting the research is to get more information about the species in the area.”


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Felicia Gans can be reached at felicia.gans@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @FeliciaGans.