Atlantic Shark Institute tags 8 great whites in RI waters this summer

South County

WAKEFIELD, R.I. (WPRI) — Researchers tagged eight great white sharks in Rhode Island waters this summer, according to the Atlantic Shark Institute.

Jon Dodd, executive director of the Atlantic Shark Institute, said this is the most sharks that have been tagged in the study to date.

“In several parts of the world the great white shark is determined to be critically endangered and that makes this research all the more vital,” he said.

The institute has been working alongside the O’Seas Conservation Foundation to track the sharks. Dodd said the tracking devices will allow researchers to locate the sharks for 10 years, and through this research, the institute hopes to learn more about their movements and patterns.

But the most important part, according to Dodd, is that most of the sharks they tagged were juveniles.

“While more than 300 great white sharks have been tagged over the last decade or so, the vast majority of those sharks have been sub-adult and adult white sharks,” he said. “As a result, the migration patterns and habits of those sharks, including fine-scale and broad-scale movements, have been revealed more and more during that time. Largely absent from the majority of those tags have been the much younger white sharks, and much about their behavior and habits is still largely unknown.”

In addition to tagging the most sharks to date, Dodd said the institute also tagged what is believed to be the smallest great white shark researchers have ever seen, which was a 3’6″ female.

“This small shark will not only provide valuable data over the next 10 years, but due to its size, may further shed light on the importance of this region to this apex predator,” he said.

The goals of the research include pinpointing where these sharks give birth and raise their young, as well as making certain protections are put in place in order for the species to survive.

The institute is also hoping to learn where the sharks go when the water gets colder, how far they stray from shallow water and when they might join older sharks to feed on bigger prey like seals.

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