Cape Cod great white sharks will be highlighted at white shark conference in Australia

All the jaws-ome research about great white sharks along Cape Cod will soon take center stage Down Under.

Researchers with the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy and Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries will be heading to Australia for the White Sharks Global conference — where they’ll be sharing their Cape white shark discoveries with scientists from other shark hotspots around the world.

Some of the Cape white shark research that will be presented includes: a white shark population estimate for the region; the nearshore predatory behavior of white sharks; shallow water movements of white sharks; and how white sharks impact the movements of Cape gray seals.

“A few of us will be heading to an international white shark symposium in Australia, with people studying white sharks all over the world,” said Megan Winton, a research scientist with the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy.

“We’ll be presenting our research results, and form some new collaborations,” she added.

Winton recently finished working on a study with Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries marine biologist Greg Skomal to find out how many sharks have visited the Cape in a recent 5-year period.

The scientists now estimate that 800 to 900 individual sharks have recently visited the Cape’s waters — making the Cape one of the largest and potentially densest area for great whites in the world. Winton will present this research at the conference in Australia.

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“In this study, we present the first estimate of abundance for the white shark at a new aggregation site in the western North Atlantic,” the conference program reads.

Skomal will present their research findings about the great white sharks’ nearshore predatory behavior.

The apex predators hunt for gray seals close to the Cape shoreline during the summer and fall. That has led to some shark bites on humans over the last decade.

“The nearshore proximity of predatory sharks, their natural prey, and humans has become a public safety issue, and the number of reported white shark sightings and negative interactions between white sharks and humans has been on the rise,” the conference program reads.

Cape white sharks spend 95% of their time in depths less than 100 feet, and 47% of their time overlapping with recreational water users in depths less than 15 feet.

“… It appears that white sharks exhibit a variety of predatory behaviors off Cape Cod, ranging from explosive attacks on seals in the surf zone to demersal predation on spiny dogfish during excursions into deeper water,” the program reads. “Using these observations, our ultimate goal is to identify areas and time periods during which hunting white sharks may overlap with recreational water users so as to provide a science-based strategy for mitigating this conservation conflict.”

The White Sharks Global conference will take place in Port Lincoln, South Australia, from Nov. 12 to 17.

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