Today, the Atlantic Shark Institute (ASI) announced that their acoustic Shark Array off Block Island, RI detected another great white shark visiting the island recently. This is the fifth different great white shark that the ASI has confirmed this summer and the largest number of white sharks identified to date in this study.
The shark was detected on the west side of the island according to Jon Dodd, the Executive Director of the Atlantic Shark Institute, and was detected on a receiver sponsored by Blue Shark Vodka of NC.
“The value of this acoustic receiver array is increasing with each month and year” shared Dodd. “With more detections, more receivers to record and monitor movement, and now the ability to watch movement around the island, this research study will only grow in importance and value with each detection” added Dodd.
In this fifth case of 2020, the shark was an 8’6” female that was tagged by Dr. Greg Skomal from the MA Department of Marine Fisheries in August of 2019. It appears that the shark did not take up residence around Block Island based on an initial review of data. It may have been migrating to Cape Cod, joining the many other white sharks annually in pursuit of the seals inhabiting many of the Cape’s beaches, according to Dodd.
“With our next review and upload of data we’ll be able to confirm exactly when she departed Block Island or if she decided to spend some time there” Dodd said. “These detections only reinforce what we’ve known for some time” he added. “These sharks have been in these waters for thousands of years and this research is continuously shedding more light on what’s been going on and where they’ve been spending time. It’s important to note that very few of the white sharks in the NW Atlantic have been tagged, with these individuals tagged representing the migratory pattern of a much larger group.”
“Dr. Skomal has tagged approximately 220 white sharks, with the actual number of white sharks living in the NW Atlantic likely numbering in the thousands” shared Dodd. As a result, “it’s logical to assume that the number of white sharks in RI waters is higher than what we are seeing.”
This study is being done in collaboration with Dr. Conor McManus and the R.I. Department of Environmental Management.
This collaboration between DEM and the Atlantic Shark Institute serves as a model for successfully pursuing research efforts of mutual interest.” shared Dr. Conor McManus. “Between this and other collaborations with ASI, we are beginning to quantitatively describe the ecology of shark species in Rhode Island waters. While the presence of these species has been anecdotally reported prior, with the receiver technology, their presence can now be scientifically verified. The increased monitoring off Block Island this year has provided further insight into the specific migratory patterns of this species. We look forward to continuing these joint endeavors with ASI in better elucidating these white shark patterns and trends.” shared McManus.