‘Not just a Cape thing’: Scientist urges beachgoers to be aware of growing white shark population

PLYMOUTH, Mass — While beachgoers flocked to Massachusetts shores during the long holiday weekend, scientists say great white sharks are beginning to pop up in New England.

John Chisholm, adjunct scientist at New England Aquarium told Boston 25 they are expecting more sharks this year— as the seal population continues to grow.

“The first good beach weather days, you got the holiday weekend, and you also have the sharks showing up,” said Chisholm. “It’s not just a Cape Cod thing, it’s an Atlantic thing.”

The New England Aquarium shared pictures over the last month of shark bites seen on a whale off Chatham and even seals off Plymouth.

Chisholm added, “No matter where you’re going into the water, whether that’s Cape Cod or Gloucester or Plymouth, you need to be shark smart.”

Shark smart, Chisholm explained, means keeping close to shore with others, and away from seals that often patrol the coastline.

“If you’re seeing seals or schools of fish or birds working on the water, that means there’s food there for the sharks,” Chisholm said. “They’re going to come looking for it.”

Large signs warning beachgoers of white sharks stand at White Horse Beach in Plymouth, near where a wounded seal was spotted.

One beachgoer referencing the warning sign asked, “How can you not be afraid of that?!”

Chisholm told Boston 25 the last shark attack in Massachusetts was in 2020. While these incidents are rare, growing numbers of seals and sharks should make beachgoers more alert.

He finished, “You don’t have to be scared of them. But, you have to be mindful.”

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