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Great white research season wraps up

By Alban - Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0

Great white shark researchers working off the coast of Cape Cod have finished up for the season after tagging 31 new sharks.

For the first time, they also tested how well drones work in detecting sharks near the shore.

State shark expert Greg Skomal says drones have been suggested as a way to alert swimmers to the presence of sharks.

He says his team is now analyzing the data.

“In many cases the drones can see these sharks," he said.

"But we want to see under what conditions the drones can’t detect these sharks. And what conditions they can detect the sharks."

Skomal says his team will be investigating the times when the sharks' tags pinged the acoustic buoy array but were not detected by the drones.

“If we can’t see the shark, why?" he said.

"Is it the time of day, is it turbidity, is it other conditions that might be preventing us from detecting the presence of that animal?"

Over the last ten years the state and the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy have tagged 277 great white sharks.

Elsa Partan is a producer and newscaster with CAI. She first came to the station in 2002 as an intern and fell in love with radio. She is a graduate of Bryn Mawr College and the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. From 2006 to 2009, she covered the state of Wyoming for the NPR member station Wyoming Public Media in Laramie. She was a newspaper reporter at The Mashpee Enterprise from 2010 to 2013. She lives in Falmouth with her husband and two daughters.