Over the summer sharks became a subject of interest in New England, particularly off the eastern shores of Cape Cod. Headlines of a shark attack and photos brought many folks to the shoreline in search of a glimpse of a great white shark.
Although the movie Jaws conjures up visions of shark attacks in New England waters, actual attacks at the Cape on humans is somewhat rare. This past summer however did break the norm when a swimmer was attacked off the coast of the small Cape Cod village of Truro. The swimmer apparently ignored the advice of authorities and was swimming well off shore in an area known for seals, a favorite meal for sharks.
Now that summer is over and the tourists have left the Cape the question becomes what about the sharks, do they stay in the area? Actually they also leave the waters off the Cape but apparently not as fast as the Labor Day migration of summer swimmers.
According to Cape Cod Shark guru Greg Skomal, 17 sharks were tagged for study this past summer and just prior to Hurricane Sandy six were still in the waters of Cape Cod. It is not unusual for sharks to remain in Cape waters until mid-December.
Sharks are attracted to Cape Cod by an abundance of food. Seals are now a protected species in Cape waters and their population has risen exponentially providing the sharks with an all you can eat smorgasbord. Hence it is not a good idea to swim in areas populated with seals.
Scientists are expanding their study of sharks and their habits with catching and tagging sharks now a common occurrence. While most sharks are tagged with a local device, two were recently tagged with satellite tags and are identified as Genie and Mary Lee. The satellite tags allow them to be tracked over long distances. So where are they now?
Genie has not been detected since September 30 when she was last known to be just south east of Nantucket and scientists are hoping that she will surface long enough soon to get a new locational position for her. Mary Lee has been fascinating to watch as she left New England and rapidly headed south. Unlike a tourist her trip was very direct and targeted to an area off the Georgia coast near the Florida border, where it is expected she will spend the winter.
If you would like to learn more about sharks, or watch them on a tracking map you can check out www.ocearch.org
For a video about the encounter between a kayaker and a great white shark off the shore of Cape Cod click here: http://video.foxnews.com/v/1727322217001/great-white-shark-trails-kayaker-in-cape-cod/