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This collaborative project generated knowledge about the views and experiences of residents, tourists, and commercial fishers regarding seals and sharks on Cape Cod. Investigators used 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.

Download the full report

April 11, 2022

Download the executive summary

April 11, 2022

Press conference materials

Recording - April 11, 2022

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True or False: Bounty hunting resulted in the near extinction of seals on Cape Cod by 1960

True.

Harbor and gray seals were bounty hunted in Maine and Massachusetts between 1880-1962 until state protection was granted (1965 in MA). 72,284 to 135,498 seals were bounty hunted during that time (Lelli et al. 2009).

True or False: Fishing activities resulted in large declines in great white shark populations

True.

Although white sharks were never targeted commercially in the region, by-catch and capture in recreational fisheries were sufficient to reduce population levels by as much as 73% in the 1970s and 1980s (Curtis et al. 2014). In response to declines in the WNA and elsewhere, harvest of the species was prohibited in the US Atlantic in 1997 (National Marine Fisheries Service 1997).

True or False: Laws helped great white sharks and seal populations recover their historic ranges

True.

The United States has strong laws that protect seals and sharks.  Seals are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which went into effect in 1972.  White sharks were listed as a prohibited species by the National Marine Fisheries Service in 1997 and by the state of Massachusetts in 2005.   

Frequently Asked Questions

Interview with Dr. Andrea Bogomolni. Learn about the natural history of seals in the Cape Cod region and what scientists are doing to better understand their population, habitat use, and more.  Learn more about seals.

Interview with research scientist Megan Winton. Learn about white shark natural history and research.  Learn more about sharks.
More resources at www.sealsandsociety.com

What do I do if I see a marine animal in distress or entangled in a foreign object?

Do not touch it or move it.  Reporting a sick, injured, entangled, stranded, or dead animal is the best way to make sure professional responders and scientists know about it and can take appropriate action. Numerous organizations around the country are trained and ready to respond. If you see a sick, injured, stranded, or dead marine mammal or sea turtle, immediately contact your local stranding network, which can be found HERE.

Photo Gallery - beach surveys

Head of the Meadow Beach 6/17/21

Nauset Light Beach 6/22/21

Coast Guard Beach 6/18/21

Coast Guard Beach 6/18/21

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

Sea Grant Links

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