An agreement between the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy and New England Aquarium aims to encourage public reporting of shark sightings and verify information submitted to the Conservancy’s popular Sharktivity app.
Under the terms of the citizen science initiative, the Conservancy will contract the Aquarium to employ a local citizen science coordinator responsible for verifying shark sighting reports made by the public through Sharktivity and documenting submitted accounts of shark-seal interactions or other predatory behavior. The coordinator, Massachusetts-based shark expert John Chisholm, will also submit white shark photos and videos gathered from the public for identification and inclusion in the Conservancy’s White Shark Logbook Catalog.
“The New England Aquarium is one of the nation’s premier institutions dedicated to marine life conservation, education and research, and our collaborative effort will enhance rapid and accurate confirmation of white shark sightings reported through Sharktivity,” said Cynthia Wigren, CEO and co-founder of the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy. “Citizen scientists play a crucial role in the Conservancy’s mission to educate the community and improve public safety, and we rely upon and value their sighting data reported through the Sharktivity app.”
In addition, the citizen science coordinator will work with the public to promote awareness of non-white shark species, including skates and rays, which inhabit New England waters and are often misidentified.
“The Conservancy has really spearheaded the effort to keep the community as informed and safe as possible regarding white sharks, and the New England Aquarium is excited to join and amplify this effort,” said Dr. Nick Whitney, Senior Scientist in the New England Aquarium’s Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life. “Our adjunct scientist, John Chisholm, has been tracking public shark sightings for many years and brings a wealth of expertise to help us coordinate sightings through the Conservancy’s Sharktivity app.”
Sharktivity provides information and push notifications for alerts regarding white shark sightings, detections and movements to raise awareness and help people and white sharks co-exist peacefully. The app sightings are input by researchers, safety officials and users that upload photos for confirmation.