Great white taggers plan return to Cape - News, Weather and Classifieds for Southern New England

Great white taggers plan return to Cape

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For more than a year, NBC 10 has been following the travels of great white sharks tagged off Cape Cod. The group behind the shark tracker is coming back for more.

OCEARCH catches, tags and releases great whites. NBC 10 first showed you the crew's tagging mission off Cape Cod last year. The team is coming back next month in hopes of catching more of the big sharks.

"So they have a big enough sample size to draw conclusions and solve the puzzle of their lives," said OCEARCH expedition leader Chris Fischer. "I'd like to tag up to 20 sharks if we could this August."

Fischer said he thinks there are that many sharks off the Cape.

OCEARCH has tagged and tracked great whites in other parts of the world, too. The group teams up with local scientists in each region.

"We learn a lot when we come into an area the first time, which we then hope to leverage on a second trip to be far more productive," Fischer said.

Fischer said there's a reason they want to tag more.

"For the scientists to have enough sharks to make their data conclusive, they need at least 10 or so," Fischer said. "We got to learn the basics of their life. Where are they going? When are they coming and going, and what are they doing?"

To follow the sharks, OCEARCH has a website that lets anyone look in on the sharks that have GPS tags on them. Two sharks they tagged off the Cape in September – which they named Mary Lee and Genie -- are now off the coast of the Southeastern U.S., as they have been for months as we've been checking in.

OCEARCH went to Florida earlier this year in hopes of learning more.

"Right out of the gate, we learned that your sharks up there are using the Southeast a lot. Now why?

That's why we went down there. What are they doing down there? What are they doing at the Cape? So, the first sharks have really defined so far the range of your female great white sharks out of Cape Cod. It's important we get some tags on some male white sharks there.

"The sharks are surprising us. They're going to places we never expected. Bermuda. They're hanging out a lot in the middle of the Atlantic. Mary Lee even came back up to the Northeast in the winter time, in 38 to 42 degree water, which we did not think was possible," Fischer said.

Fischer said they're trying to put the findings to good use.

"There's a bunch of science work going on that's creating data for education, data for public safety, and data for fisheries management," Fischer said.

"So, we have learned so much so quickly, now it's about taking those learnings that have kind of opened up windows to whole new questions and try to execute at solving those puzzles," Fischer said.

They hope the return engagement with the great whites in August helps out. If nothing else, it's certainly interesting to watch.

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