Reporting Christina Hager
CHATHAM (CBS) – A team of shark researchers spent this week on Cape Cod preparing for a shark tagging trip this summer. “The dots are connecting,” says expedition leader Chris Fischer, who heads up the OCEARCH.
His crew worked with Massachusetts state marine biologists to put satellite tags on two great white sharks off the coast of Chatham last September. Fischer says data from the tags shows a possible explanation for the many Cape shark sightings in recent years. He thinks Cape Cod is a breeding ground. “It’s the right time of year,” he says.
One of the sharks tagged on the Cape last year may hold the answers to key information. Her name is Mary Lee, after Fischer’s mother. Researchers think she may be pregnant. “We’re hoping and guessing that if this was the breeding site, that Mary Lee won’t return this summer, because what we’ve seen in other parts of the world is the females only go to that site every other year, because it takes a year and a half to give birth.”
The community is embracing the research. At the Chatham Bars Inn, there have been so many questions about sharks, the resort started a special shark outing for tourists. “We’re going to be taking guests out to check the acoustic receivers…to see if any of the sharks are actually coming into the harbor,” explains leisure operations director Lori Gilmore.
Wednesday, Fischer visited an elementary school where a student did a class project focusing on Cape Cod sharks. “I just want to know where the great whites have their babies,” says 9-year-old Alyssa Fornaro. Fischer hopes the OCEARCH will help answer that question someday soon.