Year In Review: How The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy Advanced Its Mission

Filed Under: Non Profit News

The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy reported a successful 2021 research season that advanced its mission to support scientific research, improve public safety and educate the community to inspire white shark conservation.

During the season, which continued through early November, 18 research trips were conducted. Dr. Gregory Skomal of the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, who, working with the Conservancy, successfully attached 39 acoustic tags and 10 camera tags to white sharks off Cape Cod. Since the Conservancy began funding research in 2013, a total of 250 white sharks have been tagged.

“The 2021 season was very productive on the research front,” said Megan Winton, senior scientist, Atlantic White Shark Conservancy. “The tags deployed by the Division of Marine Fisheries will contribute to both short- and long-term studies being conducted by multiple groups, all of which will improve our understanding of how white sharks use the nearshore waters off Cape Cod. I am particularly excited about what the footage recorded by the camera tags reveals. Most tag types used by marine scientists generate a timeline of locations or environmental data that we then have to make sense of – it’s incredibly powerful to actually be able to see what a tagged animal is doing as you’re interpreting the data collected by the tag. These tags are giving us an intimate glimpse into the lives of these mysterious animals and have the potential to transform the way we think about them.”

The Conservancy’s educational programs also experienced a banner year in 2021.

The Shark Center Chatham was open year-round for the first time this year, welcoming more than 14,000 visitors to its exhibits and educational programs. In addition, more than 70 families participated in the Conservancy’s ecotourism trips, allowing them to observe white sharks in their natural habitat.

“It was an exciting year due to the growth of the organization,” said Marianne Walsh, education director, Atlantic White Shark Conservancy. “We were able to run multiple education programs simultaneously for the first time this past summer. Having the ability to offer different educational opportunities at various locations enables us to better engage with the community and tourists during the busy summer and fall seasons.”

In response to the increasing public interest in learning about white sharks off the coast of New England, the Conservancy also started the build-out and renovation of a 3,100-square-foot space on MacMillan Pier in Provincetown in 2021. The new location will be the site of the nonprofit’s second Shark Center expected to open next summer.

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