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New Consortium to Cooperate on White Shark Studies

Thirteen research groups and government agencies have formed a consortium to share information about white sharks in the northwest Atlantic Ocean, and Cape Cod organizations are among them.

Members of the New England White Shark Research Consortium will share their knowledge and data to advance human understanding of great whites.

Megan Winton, a research scientist at the Chatham-based Atlantic White Shark Conservancy, one of the partners, said scientists want to learn more about when and where white sharks are present in near-shore waters, and about any behavioral patterns they show in their hunt for seals.

“Really the best thing we can do, in terms of beach management, is provide scientific information on what these animals are doing and when they're likely to occur in the waters off of our coastline, so that people can modify their behavior accordingly,” she said.

She said cooperation through the consortium will increase the number of acoustic receivers detecting tagged sharks in coastal waters from Rhode Island to Canada.

“All that data is going to be shared between all the organizations, to really get a better understanding of white shark movements, not only off of Cape Cod, but throughout the broader region,” she said.

The consortium also formalizes some existing cooperative relationships among individual scientists, Winton said.

The 13 organizations include, among others, the Center for Coastal Studies in Provincetown, UMass Dartmouth and UMass Amherst, the New England Aquarium, and public agencies in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Maine and Canada.

Jennette Barnes is a reporter and producer. Named a Master Reporter by the New England Society of News Editors, she brings more than 20 years of news experience to CAI.