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Ocearch shark tagging mission ends Friday

Several sharks tagged during Expedition Cape Cod 2013

Friday, August 30 is Ocearch's last day on the water for Expedition Cape Cod.  The research team has been on the waters off the Cape for a month in search of great white sharks.

The non-profit's mission was to capture, bio-sample, tag, release and track sharks in an effort to learn more about their behavior.

A team of researchers working with several institutions including Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and MA Division of Fisheries, set off aboard the 126' M/V Ocearch in search of great white sharks.  August is the ideal time to search for sharks in our area as they are attracted to the waters off the Cape by the record number of seals--a favorite meal of sharks--in the area.

Through social media such as Twitter and online apps and tools, Ocearch has been able to offer shark fans almost real-time access to their mission.

During this summer's mission, the team of researchers have tagged several sharks, most recently Katharine, a 2,300 lb., 14'2" immature female just last week.  When she was tagged on August 20, fans of Cat, Ocearch's sponsor, named the great white Katharine in honor of Falmouth-born Katharine Lee Bates, the author of "America the Beautiful".

Katharine the shark was examined and a blood sample was taken.  Researcher Brenda Anderson from the University of Florida took an ultrasound during the examine, but was unable to tell if Katharine was pregnant due to the angle.  Researchers work quickly to get the information they need, tag the shark and get it back into the sea with as little discomfort as possible. You can see Katharine's examination on YouTube as part of Expedition Update #7 here.

Shark fans and followers of Ocearch are invited to track the tagged sharks online via Ocearch's Global Shark Tracker here. As of Thursday afternoon, Katharine was pinged in Nantucket Sound, most likely in search of a group of seals. Early Wednesday morning, another great white, Genie, was pinged off Monomoy. Genie was tagged by Ocearch last summer and named by Massachusetts state shark expert Dr. Greg Skomal.

In addition to Katharine, Princess, April and Rizzilient, three Mako sharks, and Beamer, a Blue shark, were tagged on July 28. Betsy, the first great white of the expedition was tagged on August 13. Although Ocearch fell short of their intended goal of 10-20 great whites tagged, valuable information was gathered from the specimens they did land.

This was Ocearch's 17th shark expedition and the second off Cape Cod.

After some significant shark sightings an an attack off Truro last summer, officials, residents and visitors seemed to be anticipating a lot of sightings this year. In reality, ocean beaches along the Outer Cape were only closed briefly a few times this season.

Track sharks on the Ocearch site here and follow shark updates at #expeditioncapecod.

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