The first great white shark of the 2018 season has been tagged in Cape Cod waters. Researchers say compared to last year, this shark season ramped up quickly.
Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries' marine biologist, Greg Skomal, along with a team from the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy, tagged the 11-foot female about a quarter mile off of the Truro shoreline.
Skomal said he’s seeing more great white sharks at this point in season than he did last year. He said they’ve been seeing great white sharks consistently off the coast of the outer Cape for at least two weeks.
"It’s entirely possible that we’ve seen this particular shark before. But, in order to determine that, we need to critically examine all of the video we took and that takes some time," Skomal said.
He believes the early start to the season is due to warmer ocean temperatures.
"Even though it may just be a few degrees difference in water temperature, the sharks seem to be more closely associated with that warmer water. And it makes sense because there’s seals in both the warm and the cold water. So, there’s plenty of food there," Skomal said.
Skomal said the underwater video footage taken right before the shark was tagged will help find any identifying characteristics like scarring patterns.
He said this research is part of an ongoing study by the Division of Marine Fisheries to examine the behavior and migrations of great white sharks off the coast of Massachusetts and beyond. He said this shark marks the 134th tagged since the research began in 2009.
Skomal said this is also the final year of a five-year study supported by the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy to collect population and migration data for great white sharks.