MAER team disentangles basking shark on World Ocean’s Day

June 8, 2017

Head and mouth of shark just before release. Rope was wrapped around the head of the animal. CCS image.

Today, World Ocean’s Day, the Marine Animal Entanglement Response (MAER) team from the Center for Coastal Studies (CCS) in Provincetown disentangled a basking shark today in Cape Cod Bay. The estimated 18 foot long shark was anchored in fishing gear just outside of Provincetown Harbor.  It was severely incapacitated by the entanglement but may recover.

A charter fisherman reported the shark to the CCS emergency hotline. The team was already on the water conducting research with the Center’s Humpback Whale Studies program and was able to respond quickly.

Basking sharks are a common sight around the Cape and Islands at this time of year. Although their dorsal fin is sometimes mistaken for that of a white shark, basking sharks are toothless filter feeders whose diet consists of plankton, small fish and invertebrates.  Basking sharks are the second largest species of fish, reaching up to 40 feet in length.

Boaters are urged to report any entanglement sightings of whales, sea-turtles or sharks to the MAER team (1-800-900-3622) or the US Coast Guard on VHF 16, and to stand by the animal at a safe distance until trained responders arrive.

CCS disentanglement work is supported by a grant from the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) and the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries (MA-DMF). Support for the Marine Animal Response Team also comes from the Massachusetts Environmental Trust, Grace W. Allsop Foundation, DJ & T Foundation, Max and Victoria Dreyfus Foundation, Mary P. Dolciani Halloran Foundation, Hermann Foundation, Island Foundation, MALLRD Foundation, Pegasus Foundation, Towle Ocean Conservation Foundation, Alexandra Rose Tozzi Memorial Foundation, G. Unger Vetlesen Foundation, and contributions from CCS members. All disentanglement activities are conducted under a federal permit authorized by NOAA.

Please CLICK HERE to make a donation to support the MAER team’s vital work. Your gift in any amount will be very much appreciated. Thank you!