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Human Dimension of Rebounding Population of Seals and White Sharks on Cape Cod, Massachusetts

Principal Investigator

Jennifer Jackman, Salem State University

Co-Principal Investigators

Owen Nichols, Center for Coastal Studies

Lisa Sette, Center for Coastal Studies

Stephanie Wood, Univ. of Massachusetts-Boston

Melissa Sanderson, Cape Cod Commercial Fisherman's Alliance

Stephanie Sykes, Cape Cod Commercial Fisherman’s Alliance

Cynthia Wigren, Atlantic White Shark Conservancy

Megan Winton, Atlantic White Shark Conservancy

Marianne Long, Atlantic White Shark Conservancy

Allen Rutberg, Center for Animals and Public Policy of the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University

Seana Dowling-Guyer, Center for Animals and Public Policy of the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University

Research Team

Rachel Bratton, University of Massachusetts Boston School for the Environment

Catherine Cummings, Tufts University Center for Animals and Public Policy

Vanessa Bramante, Salem State University

Victoria Kako, Salem State University

Emily Hanlon, Salem State University

Derek Baseman, Salem State University

Nikki Brewster, Salem State University


This collaborative project will generate knowledge about the views and experiences of residents, tourists, and commercial fishers regarding seals and sharks on Cape Cod. Investigators will use surveys to measure stakeholder beliefs, attitudes, and perceptions of seal/shark interactions, management, and conflict mitigation strategies. The knowledge gained from this survey will enable managers, policy makers, and non-governmental organizations to advance marine conservation, promote responsible stewardship, and foster co-existence of humans, seals, and sharks on Cape Cod.

Frequently Asked Questions

Who will take the survey?

The survey will be administered to samples of Cape Cod voters, commercial fishers, and tourists between June and August 2021 through the mail and online through Qualtrics. A random sample of Cape Cod voters, stratified by town, was selected from Barnstable County voter lists. One person per household was randomly selected from the population of Barnstable County commercial fishery permit holders obtained from the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries. Using a multi-stage sampling methodology, time blocks were randomly chosen at Cape Cod National Seashore Beaches based on visitor data during which the research team will identify tourists interested in participating in the survey.

How do I complete the survey?

Voters, commercial fishers, and tourists in the samples will be contacted by mail and email and provided with the option of completing the survey online using a unique link or completing a survey booklet that can be mailed back in a pre-stamped return envelope. To ensure a representative sample, multiple contact attempts will be made to increase the response rate. Participation in this survey is voluntary.

What will be done with my responses and contact information?

The study has been reviewed and approved by the Salem State University Institutional Review Board. Each person has been assigned a unique ID number. Your answers are completely confidential and will be used only as a part of statistical summaries in which no individual’s answers can be identified. After you complete the survey, your name will be removed from the mailing list and never connected to your answers in any way.

What will happen with the survey results?

Our research will contribute to the development of public education programs, policies, and management strategies to address conflicts related to wildlife. Following the study, findings will be shared to contribute to coexistence, public safety, management, and public education strategies.