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Cape Cod Could Be the Next Nursery for Baby White Sharks

A computer model developed by Chris Lowe's lab shows that Cape Cod could become a baby shark nursery.
Courtesy New England Aquarium
Courtesy New England Aquarium
A computer model developed by Chris Lowe's lab shows that Cape Cod could become a baby shark nursery.

Cape Cod has seen a dramatic increase in the number of great white sharks frequenting our waters since 2009. Most have been adults, but sightings of baby white sharks are also on the rise.

Now there’s research that points to Cape Cod as the next great white shark nursery.

Chris Lowe, professor of marine biology and director of the Shark Lab at California State University at Long Beach, has been studying this possibility.

A graduate student working with Lowe used tracking data from the West coast of the U.S., which gives the sharks’ preferred environmental conditions for spawning such as temperature and depth, to create a model that could be applied around the world.

“So when we look at the East Coast we find the areas off the outer part of Long Island, the back part of Cape Cod and Martha’s Vineyard… that should be the best habitat for baby white sharks,” said Lowe.

In the summer, that is.

In the winter, the researchers predicted the sharks would show up at Cape Hatteras in North Carolina.

“And of course, last year some colleagues tagged baby white sharks off Long Island,” he said. “And where did they wind up last winter? Right off Cape Hatteras.”

The idea that there could be multitudes of baby sharks swimming underfoot around Cape Cod may not be welcome news to swimmers, but Lowe says there’s not much to be worried about. On the West coast, the baby sharks aren’t even noticed by swimmers and surfers.

“The statistics show that any given day you could have 10,000 surfers out there, and these baby white sharks are swimming right underneath them, and as long as everybody minds their own business, there doesn’t seem to be any problem,” he said. 

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