On Cape Cod It’s All the time Shark Week


Great white shark, South Africa (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

30 July 2023

This can be the final day of Shark Week on the Discovery Channel however on Cape Cod it runs all 12 months. A brand new research printed this week in Marine Ecology Progress Series tagged and counted nice white sharks (Carcharodon carcharias) off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts and located that 800 people visited the realm from 2015 to 2018. Which means Cape Cod may have the highest density of white sharks in the world.

Fortuitously all of the sharks weren’t there on the identical time. As lead creator Megan Winton of the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy (AWSC) explains, nice white sharks are extremely migratory. Their inhabitants peaks on the Cape from July to November when the water is heat, as proven on this screenshot from AWSC’s logbook for 2022. Particular person sharks spend a couple of hours or a couple of weeks within the space. (Click on here to see AWSC’s shark information and obtain their shark app.)

AWSC white shark logbook by month for 2022 (screenshot from AWSC)

The sharks are drawn to the Cape by the abundance seals, certainly one of their favourite meals. A Google Haul Out survey of southeastern Massachusetts estimated most counts of grey seals at 30,000 to 50,000 animals in 2012 to 2015. Harbor seals arrive within the fall and add to the seal inhabitants. No surprise sharks present up. Grey seals present a variety of meat, weighing as a lot as 800 kilos.

Gray seals at Nantucket NWR (photo from Wikimedia Commons)
Gray seals at a haul out in Nantucket NWR (photo from Wikimedia Commons)

Throughout our latest journey to Cape Cod I noticed plenty of seals at Chatham Fish Pier. A number of swam by the fishing boats however the overwhelming majority have been hauled out on a sand bar throughout the harbor. See that lumpy line of grey blobs? These are grey seals.

Grey seals line the sting of the sand bar throughout from Chatham Fish Pier on Cape Cod, 12 July 2023 (picture by Richard St. John)
Grey seals line the sting of the sand bar throughout from Chatham Fish Pier on Cape Cod, 12 July 2023 (picture by Richard St. John)

Whereas on the Cape I didn’t see any sharks however I did see a No Swimming shark signal at Race Level. I used to be on the lookout for birds and, because it seems, diving seabirds give the trace {that a} shark could also be close by. Each feed on faculties of fish, the birds from above, the sharks from beneath.

The abundance of sharks and seals at Cape Cod are an environmental success story. Grey seals have been nearly extinct in U.S. waters by the mid twentieth century due to bounty searching in Maine and Massachusetts from the late 1800s to 1962. The seal population began to recover, slowly, when the bounties ended. Sharks made a comeback due to the seals.

(images from Wikimedia Commons and by Richard St. John, graph is a screenshot of AWSC’ logbook web site; click on on the hyperlinks to see the originals)

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