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slides: Massachusetts Shark Week 2012

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

 

It's Shark Week! Some people count down the days to their birthdays. Others religiously check off the calendar to Christmas. Some however, count down the days to an event so epic that one day can’t encapsulate it. It is an annual occurrence so awesome that a whole week is devoted to it. A week rife with the splendor of nature, the mystery of the open ocean, and the raw power of the world’s apex predators. We can stop counting down because the week is finally upon us.

Discovery Channel’s Shark Week has taken on a cult following of epic proportions. Shark Week’s Facebook has more likes than any rock star can boast. And what’s not to like? Sharks are fascinating creatures with the power to inspire respect and to terrify. Get primed on Mass sharks, right here.

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What's out there?

What's swimming off the coast of the Commonwealth? Quite a few more sharks than you would think. The Massachusetts shore line is the home to sand tiger sharks, sandbar sharks, smooth dogfish sharks, spiny dogfish sharks, and even great white sharks.

Photo: Joe Romeiro

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Mass' Biggest Shark

The biggest shark in Massachusetts waters is the Basking Shark. The giant fish can can reach lengths of 45 feet, which is longer than a school bus. Still, don't be too scared of these gentle giants, as they are harmless filter feeders that have no interest in humans. Just plankton for them.

Photo: Greg Skomal/NOAA Fisheries Service

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Great Whites in Mass

The great white shark may be the most dangerous shark found in Massachusetts waters, but this legendary hunter is not very common. However, it was confirmed that a great white bit a man's legs off the coast of Truro less than two weeks ago, resulting in multiple lacerations and puncture wounds.

Photo: sharkdiver.com

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Great Whites in Mass II

Shark Week may have come at the perfect time, as shark numbers appear to be rising, especially the number of great whites around Massachusetts. One theory is that great whites are frequenting waters around Cape Cod more often because the gray seal population there has increased from 10,000 to 300,000 since environmental regulations were put in place to protect the seals.

Photo:Pterantula/Terry Goss

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Shark Advisory

The Coast Guard issued a formal warning to be wary of sharks in Massachusetts this July. The warning came in early July with the Coast Guard urging Massachusetts residents to just use common sense when swimming. The Coast Guard also said to be cautious when swimming around groups of seals.

Photo: Joe Romeiro

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Shark Attacks

Including this summer's attack near Cape Cod, there have been five documented shark attacks in Massachusetts history. Two of those have been fatal attacks but, before this summer, the last documented incident came in 1936, according to a database compiled by the Florida Museum of Natural History.

Photo: Pietervisser

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Who's Killing Whom?

Despite low numbers, the fear of shark attacks has driven an industry where shark fishing is prevalent, and the negative effects on the shark population are showing. Sharks kill an estimated 10-15 people a year, while people kill as many as 70 million sharks.

Photo: Block Island Boat Basin

 
 

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