For shark experts, it’s game on.
The first great white shark of the season was tagged in Cape Cod waters this week by state marine biologist Greg Skomal and his research partners from the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy.
The conservancy said Monday on Twitter that a tracking device was successfully attached to a roughly 11-foot shark swimming a quarter-mile from the Truro shoreline. Experts also captured underwater footage of the shark, which will be reviewed to determine its gender, officials from the nonprofit said.
Skomal, a senior biologist with the state Division of Marine Fisheries, and researchers from the conservancy are in their final year of a five-year population study of great whites off Cape Cod.
The group makes two ocean trips per week on a small boat through the summer months and into the fall, tagging as many sharks as possible and collecting data on previously tagged predators returning to the area. Pilot Wayne Davis assists the team by buzzing back and forth along the Cape in a single-engine plane in search of the apex predators.
Great whites have become part of the fabric of Cape Cod in recent years. They’re not quite as commonplace as tourists grabbing fried clams and french fries from a seafood hut — but for the most part, Cape denizens seem relatively unfazed by the sharks’ annual presence. “It’s typical of this time of year,’’ Skomal recently told The Boston Globe. “It’s something that’s been happening for years. It’s nothing unusual.”
While Monday marked the first time a great white was tagged this season, it’s certainly not the first time the sharks have made themselves known this summer. On July 2, Skomal and the conservancy’s team of experts said they encountered three great whites — two near Head of the Meadow Beach in Truro and a third off Race Point in Provincetown — while on a research expedition. Four other shark sightings were also reported last week, including one off Nauset Beach, where the animal was seen eating a seal.
On Monday, at least five confirmed great white sightings were documented on the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy’s “Sharktivity” app. A sixth sighting was reported near the Cape Cod National Seashore. It was unclear, however, how many of those sightings were of the same shark.