© 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 activity remains 'high' in Cape Cod waters well into fall season

File image: white shark "Danny" captured in a video by the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy research team off of Cape Cod.
Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries / Atlantic White Shark Conservancy
File image: white shark "Danny" captured in a video by the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy research team off of Cape Cod.

Reports of sharks coming into close contact with beachgoers on Cape Cod are nothing new. Every summer we are reminded to keep our distance from sharks who normally feed on seals, but aren't averse to attacking a human who ventures into shark territory.

To hear a story of a close encounter in November is rare, but that's what happened recently. In a widely reported story, Ray Trautz posted a statement to his Facebook page describing the encounter he and his cousin Pete Emond had on Saturday, Nov. 4 with what he described as a ten-foot shark.

Trautz wrote that the shark appeared ready to bite the leg of his cousin, who was sitting on his board, when Trautz shouted a warning. He then struck the shark with his paddle and the two were able to make it to shore safely.

While the encounter is unusual, it should be no surprise, according to Megan Winton, a scientist with the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy.

"A lot of folks when they think of sharks off the coast of Cape Cod think they are primarily here in the summer. But some of the busiest months in terms of shark activity are in October and November," Winton told CAI.

The effects of climate change may be influencing things a little. "It's been a pretty consistent pattern since we started monitoring the population. The last few years I can say we have seen sharks hanging around a little bit later than they did since we were conducting research out there."

She added that there are reports of sharks in local waters as late as January.

Last summer, NPR reported that scientists estimated 800 great white sharks could be swimming in the waters off the Cape.

While that number is certainly much smaller in the fall season, there is no doubt some sharks remain in local waters.

So what should swimmers or surfers do?

"The advice is be aware of your surroundings. Any time you are entering the ocean you are entering a wild environment. Its important to be vigilant and know that shark activity is still high off the coast of Cape Cod into the fall," Winton said.

The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy website includes historical data on sharks in the area.

The Conservancy also maintains an app where shark sightings can be reported. You can learn more here.

John Basile is the local host of All Things Considered weekday afternoons and a reporter.