Two great white sharks were spotted near the Cape Cod shoreline Wednesday, an exciting find for researchers who say they are seeing increased early-season activity by the ocean predators this year.
The first shark, which experts believe is a 14-footer, made its appearance shortly before 10 a.m. just a few hundred feet from Coast Guard Beach in Eastham. State shark biologist Gregory Skomal later affixed a tracking tag to the animal about a half-mile from shore.
Skomal, who was working with the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy Wednesday, tagged a second shark about 2:21 p.m., about a half-mile off South Beach near the Chatham Southway. That shark measured approximately 15 feet, researchers said.
Atlantic White Shark Conservancy executive director Cynthia Wigren said signals from the tags are picked up by receivers along the coast so researchers can study the sharks’ movements.
Wigren said sharks are commonly seen close to shore, adding that many beaches have signs warning people of the possible presence of the animals. It’s more unusual to tag two sharks in one day she said, and to have observed so many by this point in the summer.
The two sharks Wednesday were the third and fourth to be tagged this season.
“We had a mild winter, so it is possible that with milder or warmer weather temperatures that sharks could be moving into the area earlier, but we need to look into it further before we make any assumptions,” Wigren said. “We’ll either see that activity is peaking earlier this year or it is possible an increase overall in the season.”
It is yet to be determined if the sharks, both of normal size, are male or female. The information gathered by the tags will help researchers learn more about them, and Wigren said she is grateful that the expedition Wednesday was a success.
“The tagging of the sharks is not necessarily dependent on how many we see, everything has to be perfectly aligned for that to happen,” Wigren said.