Researchers with the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy began this year’s field research in unfamiliar waters, Cape Cod Bay, spotting at least nine great whites, officials said Monday evening. While the research was being conducted, a 10th shark was seen feeding on a seal south of the Cape.
The nine sharks found by the conservancy were all between 8 and 11 feet long, except for one familiar face, Ashley Grace, a 12-foot female first tagged three years ago.
“They were not close to shore,” said Greg Skomal, senior fisheries scientist with the state Division of Marine Fisheries. He said the closest was 2 miles from the beach.
Researchers had previously announced that one of their focuses this summer would be on sharks within the bay. They are also looking at shark hunting and feeding habits on the ocean side of the Cape in hopes that more knowledge will help keep people safer, in the wake of a deadly attack last summer.
Skomal said Monday he was surprised how many sharks they saw in the bay and was grateful for the “ideal” conditions.
“We have not worked in Cape Cod Bay before so I didn’t know what to expect,” Skomal said Tuesday. “We suspect that we’re going to continue to see as many and more this season.”
Skomal noted peak season is still more than a month away and that they observed no seals.
Meanwhile, a 13-foot great white was spotted Monday munching on a seal 5 miles off the oceanside beaches of Chatham in the 10th spotting of the day.
“They’re always down there,” acting Chatham Harbormaster Jim Horne said.
The conservancy had alerted people through Facebook on Saturday that a seal carcass had been found floating in the waters off Chatham’s Monomoy Island.
More of these prehistoric creatures are probably hiding in the warm waters. There was an unconfirmed sighting off Sandy Neck in Sandwich on Tuesday morning, the conservancy’s Sharktivity app reported. A lifeguard spotted a fin in the water.
Skomal said researchers hope to get out on the water several times a week, weather permitting.
Sabrina Schnur can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @sabrina_schnur.