20 passive acoustic receivers to be placed in Maine waters

Gulf of Maine shark research program gets underway with Massachusetts fisheries department

Sun, 08/23/2020 - 7:15pm

    The Maine Department of Marine Resources will join the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy and the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries (DMF) in a research effort that will provide information about the presence of great white sharks in Maine’s inshore waters. 

    The project will involve the placement of 20 passive acoustic receivers by Maine DMR science bureau staff in near-shore Maine waters that will capture data from tags placed on great white sharks in research conducted by DMF since 2010. Currently there are approximately 210 great white sharks that have been tagged in the on-going research work.

    “We have a long history of partnering in both management and science with Massachusetts DMF,” said DMR Commissioner Patrick Keliher, in a news release. “Massachusetts certainly has had their share of experience with white sharks. With a study already in progress we can immediately engage with them to help expand and improve the understanding of this species.”

    The work will be supported by the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy (AWSC), a nonprofit that works to advance white shark research, education and public safety. AWSC will fund the purchase of twelve receivers that will be added to others supplied by DMF and DMR.

    Current data shows that approximately 20% of the white sharks tagged in DMF’s ongoing study migrate in to the Gulf of Maine, according to DMR.

    “This effort will provide a much better understanding of when they are in our waters, what their habitat use is, and how those change over time,” said Commissioner Keliher. “This work is important from a public safety standpoint and it will provide valuable biological information.” 

    “The partnership with Maine DMR is an excellent way to gather more data and expand on our current study,” said Dan McKiernan, director of Mass DMF. “This is a species that brings with it much mystery and this partnership will help close that knowledge gap.”

    “We are excited to establish a partnership with Maine DMR and expand our working relationship with Mass DMF,” stated Cynthia Wigren, CEO of AWSC.  “We are pleased to jumpstart these efforts, through the generosity of AWSC Board member Chris Bouton who has a home in Maine, by donating twelve acoustic receivers to DMR.”  

    Data from the acoustic receivers will be also be provided to AWSC which will upload it to their Sharktivity app. The app provides users with a recap of shark activity detected by receivers, in addition to shark sightings information and alerts. The app also allows users to upload their own photos and locations of sharks they spot. Information and app downloads can be found at https://www. atlanticwhiteshark.org/ sharktivity-app.

    “This winter DMR also will explore a possible tagging program, working in collaboration with other researchers, to expand its study of white sharks in Maine,” said Commissioner Keliher. 

    Maine DMR will work with Mass DMF to identify locations for the receivers and DMR’s Bureau of Marine Science and Marine Patrol will deploy them.