A 1,400-pound great white shark named Bob has been tracked near Cape Cod Bay—one of many expected to be in the area at this time of year.
Each year, great white sharks flock to the region in increasing numbers from July through to October, attracted by abundant food sources. More generally, the shark sightings and catch records in the wider Northwest Atlantic area have increased over the past decade, suggesting that populations of great white sharks—which were once hunted but later designated as a protected species in U.S. waters—have been recovering.
Great white sharks, also simply called white sharks, are arguably the most well-known type of shark in the world. The world’s largest known predatory fish, great whites are recognized for their size as well as their perceived aggression; the species has been credited with more fatal attacks on humans than any other species of shark, according to the Florida Museum, due primarily to its size, power and feeding behavior.
This year has seen a number of white shark sightings around the Cape Cod Bay area, so much so that some beach closures were triggered in August.
To make shark tracking easier, researchers often fit the animals with devices that allow them to record their location. This information is then displayed on platforms such as the Sharktivity app, which is operated by the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy (AWSC), or the website of marine research group Ocearch.
On August 28, Ocearch showed that one of its devices had “pinged” its location, revealing the whereabouts of a 1,400-pound, 13-foot adult male shark called Bob. Originally tagged at Ironbound Island, Nova Scotia, in September 2021, Bob was spotted swimming just off Cape Cod Bay over the weekend.
“After nearly 10 months without a location ping, 13ft and 1,398lb adult male white shark Bob pinged in this afternoon off Nantucket Island, Massachusetts!”, Ocearch wrote on Facebook on Sunday. “We’re excited to hear from Bob again and hope he continues to come to the surface and share his location with us!”
Bob’s location ping came amid roughly 20 other confirmed white shark sightings near Cape Cod that were reported on the Sharktivity app on Sunday and Monday.
Shark attacks may be rare, but they do happen. In September 2018, a swimmer at Cape Cod’s Newcomb Hollow Beach was killed in what was believed to be the first fatal shark attack in Massachusetts in more than 80 years. Arthur Medici, 26, was attacked while boogie boarding around 30 yards off the beach. He was taken to the hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.
Massachusetts has historically had a relatively low incidence of confirmed unprovoked shark attacks compared to other states. Six have occurred there since 1837, according to the Florida Museum’s International Shark Attack File, compared to 896 in Florida—by far the United States hotspot.
The museum adds on its website that bees, wasps and snakes are responsible for more fatalities each year and that in the U.S., deaths occur up to 30 more times from lightning strikes per year than from shark attacks.
“Shark attack is a potential danger that must be acknowledged by anyone that frequents marine waters, but it should be kept in perspective,” the museum states.