OCEARCH Catches and Releases Nearly Half Dozen Great Whites Off Cape Cod

ocearch great white sharkThe ocean research group OCEARCH landed a 14-foot 2-inch, 2,300 lb. immature female Great White Shark yesterday off the coast of Cape Cod.  It’s the fifth female white shark they’ve caught since beginning their research campaign two and a half weeks ago.

I spoke with OCEARCH founder Chris Fischer today and he notes that this is their 17th expedition to capture, study, tag, and release great white sharks, and they’ve really had to change their tactics.

“These New England sharks are skittish.  They’re not like South African sharks which are somewhat used to human interaction.  These sharks are super boat-shy and fixated on the local seal population.”

Fischer notes that during this expedition, he and his team are supporting over a half dozen research groups and universities in a unified effort to learn everything they can about the North Atlantic Great White Shark, particularly their breeding and migratory patterns.  To do so they are taking blood samples and attaching GPS transponders to their dorsal fins which allow the sharks to be tracked in real time.

ocearch betsy
Mike McCallister of UNF, Brandon Erye, Expedition Leader Chris Fischer, Bob Hueter and Nick Whitney of Mote Marine Laboratory finish placing the SPOT tag and the accelerometer tag on Betsy.

In a comment on the OCEARCH website, Dr. Robert Huetner from Mote Laboratory notes, “OCEARCH brings a capacity to shark research unlike anything we have ever had before.  We have never had a ship like this and never had a crew like this.  The expertise – it’s amazing.”

Their ultimate goal, notes Fischer on the OCEARCH website, “is to increase knowledge of these animals to ensure that they have a robust future. Conservation decisions should be driven by data rather than emotion.”

The data gained over the next few years from this expedition can in turn be used to effect meaningful policy change on a government level.  Fischer notes that the scientists on board are hoping to study at least 8 great white sharks over the course of this expedition.

brett mcbride ocearch
Fishing Master Brett McBride on the shark lift with Betsy.

In the meantime, their efforts have gained massive global attention, and significant support from organizations such as Caterpillar, Contender boats and Costa Sunglasses.  While bringing in their latest great white yesterday, Fisher notes that they had over a million people following them over the course of the day.

“It’s all about putting the ocean first,” comments Fischer.

Follow the OCEARCH expedition blog HERE