A couple weeks ago, we wrote about an expedition off Cape Cod this month in which an “A team” of researchers was going to try to catch and tag great white sharks.
After almost two weeks of fruitless searching, they finally were able to put their first tag on a shark this past Thursday.
It was a 12-foot, 7-inch female. They named her Betsy, and now you can follow along online to see where Betsy goes. (More on that in a minute.)
The shark-tagging expedition is being led by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI) and Ocearch, a nonprofit organization that has been tagging and tracking sharks around the world aboard a specially devised research vessel for a couple years. The Mote Marine Laboratory has staff participating, and so is Greg Skomal, a Fairfield native who is senior fisheries biologist with Massachusetts Marine Fisheries. He’s been involved with the tagging of several great whites off the Cape in the last few summers. (He also gave a fascinating talk at The Maritime Aquarium back in February 2011.)
The purpose of the mission is to learn more about great whites, which are being drawn to the ocean-side of the Cape in increasing numbers by the new abundance of one of the sharks’ favorite meals: gray seals.
Here’s a YouTube summary of Betsy’s tagging: http://tinyurl.com/lsbmvbc
Betsy now has a tracking signal on her dorsal fin that will transmit information each time she breaks the water surface. You can track her movements, and also those of two other great whites tagged last September – named MaryLee and Genie – on the Ocearch website: http://sharks-ocearch.verite.com
The expedition, whose goal is to tag as many as 20 sharks, continues through Aug. 29. Follow along at http://ocearch.org/expeditionblog
How the folks on the Cape are dealing with the sharks and seals has generated a number of recent news stories. Here’s one from The New York Times on Friday http://tinyurl.com/mwxlu2t and another from yesterday’s Boston Globe Sunday magazine http://tinyurl.com/k7k2qtx