Shark experts launch ‘Sharktivity’ app for beachgoers
If a great white is swimming near the Cape Cod shoreline this summer, people will just need to check their smartphones to learn about it.
The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy, a nonprofit organization in Chatham that works with state biologists to tag and identify great whites, launched an app Friday, ahead of the holiday weekend, that sends push notifications to beachgoers’ phones when there has been a shark sighting nearby.
“Sharktivity,” free for download on iPhones, also lets users report their own shark encounters, track the movements of previously tagged apex predators, and view recent visual sightings by experts.
“This app will be yet another tool to raise awareness and provide the public with information on white shark activity across the East Coast,” conservancy president Cynthia Wigren said in a statement.
Beach managers and patrols will send out the alerts, as will researchers on the water, if necessary.
Great white season is in full swing. Division of Marine Fisheries biologist Greg Skomal, working with the conservancy, has already tagged two sharks during recent expeditions.
The sharks are generally found feasting on gray seals near the Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge off Chatham. But they’ve also been spotted as far north as Provincetown, and in 2014 near beaches in Duxbury and Plymouth.
The conservancy announced in April that the app was in production well before the sharks returned to the Massachusetts coastline.
The concept was born out of a meeting of the Shark Working Group, which comprises the conservancy, the Division of Marine Fisheries, beach managers from Cape Cod and South Shore towns, and officials from the Cape Cod National Seashore.
In addition, the conservancy opened its new headquarters, at The Chatham Shark Center, to the public in May. The goal of the center is to educate the public about sharks.