Cape Cod Shark Search

CHATHAM, Mass. (WHDH) — A shark search is underway off the coast of Cape Cod. Scientists are now looking for any clues as to why great whites do what they do. It turns out those clues are few and far between.

Betsy, 1,400 pounds, is a great white shark caught two weeks ago who will provide a ton of useful information.

The Ocearch crew also caught Katherine last week, in their month long expedition off the coast of Chatham.

“It’s definitely a more difficult task than most places around,” one crew member said.

Last year they caught and tagged Genie, the first ever for Ocearch in the North Atlantic.

Even with a small sample size, only five tagged great whites, they’re learning a lot.

“We’re beginning to understand the range of the North Atlantic female white shark…it’s a lot more dynamic than we thought,” said Chris Fischer, Ocearch founder.

“What is she doing on the beach, and why is that different than what she’s doing in the open ocean,” Fischer said.

Scientists are trying to figure that out, which is why each catch is so important.

When the crew catches a new shark several tanks are attached. One being a GPS locator giving real time information any time the fin comes up out of the water. Other tanks measure speed, depth and direction of the sharks.

However, they want to tag more sharks. The problem is, this summer it appears there are fewer great whites near the Cape.

“We tagged 17 sharks with acoustics in 2012, and only three of those have returned, that to me, tells me there’s fewer sharks this year,” said Fischer.

When they do find one the crew has learned another lesson–turns out great whites can be picky eaters.

“We think of these animals and mindless killing machines, they’ll eat anything, but that’s not the case,” Fischer said.

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Jaws Comes Home


At one time or another, “Jaws” has had most of us afraid to go swimming in the ocean. Fortunately, the fact that it’s just a movie and that actor Robert Shaw didn’t actually get eaten and that the shark’s name was Bruce allowed most of us to get over our fear.

We regret to inform you that Discovery’s latest Shark Week entry, “Return of Jaws,” is about to bring all that back Monday, 8/5 at 9 PM.

Filmed along the coast of Cape Cod (near the fictional town of Amity where “Jaws” takes place), the “summer home of the great white shark in the Atlantic” according to marine biologist Greg Skomal, the area is the site of the first confirmed shark attack in 76 years in 2012. With shark numbers on the decline, why are shark sightings (more than 40 last year) there on the rise?

At one point, Skomal prepares to send out an alert to clear a lagoon (which also bears an unfortunate resemblance to the one where the chief’s son gets attacked in “Jaws”) as the shark closes in on swimmers.