Cape Cod shark researchers tag 8 great whites during ‘pretty busy’ October, shark spotted 20 yards from shore

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After a challenging shark research season because of nasty stormy weather, Cape Cod great white shark researchers recently enjoyed a busy stretch on the water.

The shark scientists with the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy and Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries successfully tagged eight great whites off the Cape on Wednesday and Thursday.

While beachgoers are few and far between after Labor Day, many sharks continue to stick around the Cape as they hunt for seals throughout the fall.

“October is usually a pretty busy month for us,” Megan Winton, research scientist at the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy, told the Herald on Friday. “This season has been tough for us weather-wise, with the bad weather stirring up the water. Every weekend a storm was rolling through.

“The water finally cleared up this week,” she added. “We finally had some calm days, so it was very workable out there, and we got a lot done.”

Great whites were seen close to shore off of Chatham and Orleans earlier this week. According to the Sharktivity app, a shark was spotted about 20 yards from the Orleans shoreline, and a shark was seen about 50 yards offshore from Chatham’s Monomoy Island.

October has been the third busiest month for shark activity along the Cape in recent years, according to the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy’s Logbook with shark detection data.

“A shark tagging update! @GregSkomal of the @MassDMF working with the AWSC tagged 5 white shark yesterday (10/18) and 3 white sharks today (10/19)! We are loving Sharktober!” the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy tweeted, along with a photo of a shark off of Chatham.

The scientists aren’t yet sure whether they’ve come across these individual sharks before. The researchers will be sifting through video footage to see if these sharks are already in their white shark catalogue of more than 600 apex predators.

The researchers are able to identify the sharks based on their unique markings.

“The notching patterns are unique to every shark, so we’ll go through the footage and compare it to the over 600 white sharks we’ve documented since 2014,” Winton said.

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On a recent research trip, the team again came across the 8-foot male shark named Quasimodo.

“Instantly recognizable for his abnormal curved back due to scoliosis, Quasimodo was first identified off Cape Cod in 2018,” the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy tweeted.

“In 2021, he came back to the Cape with an unknown injury to his right pelvic region which has since healed slightly,” AWSC added. “While Quasimodo is not tagged, we are certainly impressed with this shark’s ability to travel, feed, and continue to survive and make occasional visits to Cape Cod.”

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