© 2023
Local NPR for the Cape, Coast & Islands 90.1 91.1 94.3
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Shark student discovers 12-footer near Brewster home

BREWSTER—When 10-year-old Maisie Callahan came face-to-face with a dead shark on the beach earlier this month, she ran home. She needed her tape measure.

It was a big shark. At 12 feet long, the thresher was the biggest fish Maisie had ever encountered.

“I’ve lived here for a really long time and I’ve never seen anything like this," Maisie told CAI. "I’ve done some dissections of dogfish—smaller sharks—but I’ve never been very up-close with a 12-foot thresher shark before.”

Thresher sharks are most common near land and can grow up to 20 feet in length, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Maisie identified the fish while walking between Point of Rocks and Ellis Landing.

She has been fascinated with sharks since joining the Gills Club at age 5. Birthday parties have since incorporated dissections with friends.

The Gills Club is funded by the nonprofit Atlantic White Shark Conservancy in Chatham. The STEM-based program connects local girls with women scientists, and helps jump-start an interest in marine studies.

“I like that we don’t know a lot about sharks," Maisie said. "They’re kind of a mystery. Researchers learn all these new, cool facts every day, and it’s just very interesting to me.”

Local researchers wrapped shark season earlier this month. The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy tagged 31 great white sharks, totaling 277 over the last decade.

Has Maisie's discovery inspired a career path?

“I’m still 10, so I don’t know," she said. "But I’ll probably go into marine biology.”

Patrick Flanary is a dad, journalist, and host of Morning Edition.