On October 21, the Atlantic Shark Institute (ASI) announced that their acoustic Shark Array off of the RI coast detected two additional great white sharks this past month. The ASI detected a great white shark at Point Judith while also detecting another great white off of Block Island. This is the first detection that the ASI has gotten from their acoustic receiver positioned in Point Judith and their seventh different great white detected during the 2020 research season. This is the largest number of great white sharks identified in a single season in this long-term study.
The great white that was confirmed in Point Judith was a female and approximately 9 feet in length, shared Jon Dodd, Executive Director of the ASI. “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 added. The great white shark off of Block Island was detected on the SE corner of the island and was an 8’6” female. Both sharks were tagged in 2019 by Dr. Greg Skomal from the MA Department of Marine Fisheries off of Cape Cod, MA.
“The research value of this acoustic receiver array continues to exceed our expectations with each month and with each year,” shared Dodd. “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,” added Dodd. While this was the first confirmed detection off of Point Judith in this study, it did not surprise the research team.
“We are beginning to see patterns emerge from this data and that’s an exciting first step in this research,” Dodd continued. The research team intends 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.
This study is being done in collaboration with Dr. Conor McManus and the R.I. Department of Environmental Management. “These data have allowed us to confirm longstanding, often unconfirmed, reports on white shark presence within Rhode Island waters. 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,” shared McManus.