Two great white sharks detected off Rhode Island coast

South County

Courtesy of the Atlantic Shark Institute

POINT JUDITH, R.I. (WPRI) — Two great white sharks were detected off the coast of Rhode Island this past month, the Atlantic Shark Institute (ASI) announced on Wednesday.

Seven great white sharks have now been detected this year, becoming the largest number of white sharks identified in a single season to date in this study, according to Executive Director of the Atlantic Shark Institute Jon Dodd.

The ASI detected one shark at Point Judith and another off of the southeast corner of Block Island. Dodd says this is the first detection they have received from their acoustic receiver positioned in Point Judith.

“We’ve had reports of white sharks being spotted in that area over the last few years but this is the first confirmed detection using this technology,” Dodd said.

The great white confirmed in Point Judith was a female approximately 9 feet in length and the great white off the coast of Block Island was an eight-foot-six female. Both were tagged in 2019 by Dr. Greg Skomal from the MA Division of Marine Fisheries.

“The research value of this acoustic receiver array continues to exceed our expectations with each month and with each year,” Dodd said. “With more detections, more receivers to record and monitor movement, and the ability to confirm specific white shark locations, this study will only grow in importance and value each and every year.”

While this was the study’s first confirmed detection off of Point Judith, it did not surprise the research team since Dodd says they are starting to see patterns come from the data.

According to Dodd, the research team plans to continue to refine data on these sharks, deploy additional acoustic receivers, and expand collaboration with other New England states to build a broad-based picture of white shark movements throughout the region.

“These data have allowed us to confirm longstanding, often unconfirmed, reports on white shark presence within Rhode Island waters,” Dr. Conor McManus, of the R.I. DEM said. “With each tag return from ASI and DEM receivers, we can quantify the spatial and temporal patterns of many Rhode Island marine fish species. In the case of white sharks, with several years of data, our goal is to construct a data-driven understanding on what their movement tendencies are, and how they might change over time.”

To track sharks in the Atlantic Ocean and local waters, check out Ocearch shark tracker or the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy Sharktivity App.

Courtesy of the Atlantic Shark Institute

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