September 12, 2019

The Center for Coastal Studies (CCS) has been awarded contracts by the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries (MA DMF) and the Town of Truro to map the nearshore movement of great white sharks on Cape Cod.

The goal of this first of a kind study is to understand how great white sharks use the shallow waters of Cape Cod by tracking their movements, mapping the seafloor, and measuring physical oceanographic conditions and weather patterns.

The Center has deployed and maintains a dense array of 32 listening receivers off Head of the Meadow in Truro (above, right). These receivers detect and triangulate acoustic signals from tagged sharks to determine the presence, location and movement of each individual animal as it travels through the area. The data is plotted on a high resolution map of the seafloor created by the CCS Seafloor Mapping program to establish the track of each shark as it travels through the nearshore troughs and bars (below, right).

Researchers also deploy Acoustic Doppler Current Profilers to document tides, wave conditions, and the speed and direction of subsurface currents throughout the water column. Shark position data will be analyzed within the context of those environmental conditions to identify correlations between physical conditions and the presence of white sharks.

These efforts are led by Bryan Legare, Doctoral Intern and Marine Biologist at the Center for Coastal Studies, and Dr. Greg Skomal, a shark specialist at MA DMF, in coordination with the Town of Truro, the Cape Cod National Seashore, and the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy.

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