How Many Great White Sharks Are in Massachusetts?

great white sharks in Massachusetts

Fisherman Bill Chaprales prepares to tag a white shark off Cape Cod.

Like so many other questions about white sharks, the short answer to the population size of great whites in Massachusetts is we don’t know.

But that doesn’t mean that we can’t make an educated guess. We know that a population of great whites visits Cape Cod in the summer months, and the sharks appear to spend the winter months off the Southern US states and the North Atlantic.

We also know that seventeen white sharks were tagged off Cape Cod last summer, and three more returned from the summer before. State biologist Greg Skomal estimated that there may be one or two untagged sharks in the area, which suggests that there are at least twenty known white sharks who visit the coast of Massachusetts. However, since the numbers of white sharks have increased each year, it’s hard to say how many others have avoided notice so far, and how many will arrive anew this summer.

Globally, the estimated population of white sharks ranges from about 800 to 2600. If those sounds like tiny numbers, keep in mind that white sharks are apex predators who need to eat a lot of food, and don’t reproduce quickly. But also keep in mind that every white shark killed or finned makes up a significant chunk of the overall population. By proportion, the death of one white shark is like the death of about 4 million people. (That’s taking the average of the two white shark population estimates, and comparing it to 7 billion humans.)

So how many white sharks are off Cape Cod? Let’s see how many visit in a couple of months…

Do you love great white sharks? Are you a Massachusetts resident?

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Atlantic White Shark Migration

Great white sharks tagged in the summer off Cape Cod, Massachusetts have shown a similar migration pattern. The sharks travel down the east coast to warmer waters during the winter months.

shark_migration_map