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First Great White of The Year Tagged

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CHATHAM - The Chatham Harbormaster Department issued a warning to mariners and swimmers yesterday afternoon after a large great white shark was tagged off South Beach and three to four more were seen by a spotter pilot.


In response to great white sharks returning in numbers to Chatham waters, the harbor master prohibits all beachgoers from swimming within 300 feet - the length of the football field - of observed seals in the water off Chatham.



After an hour of patiently tracking a 12- to 14-foot great white shark as it approached as close as 100 feet from shore, fisherman Bill Chaprales successfully tagged the first great white of the season yesterday afternoon.


Chaprales, working under contract with state shark researcher Greg Skomal, jabbed at the shark with a specially modified harpoon and attached a satellite tag just behind the animal's dorsal fin. The shark was off South Beach, a few miles south of the 1987 break, opposite Lighthouse Beach.


After an initial twitch, the shark continued swimming slowly a few feet below the surface, as though he'd just gotten a flu shot. The satellite tag is the first one attached to a great white in local waters this year, following up on five tags put on great whites late last summer. It is programmed to detach from the shark in February and download information on its travels to a satellite.


Skomal is hoping to tag more great white sharks, along with basking sharks, as part of his research into their behavior and migratory patterns.


Spotter pilot George Breen sighted three to four great whites yesterday, some swimming fairly close to shore where hundreds of seals were busy hunting fish in the shallows.


If a shark is sighted, the harbor master asks beachgoers to leave the water and contact one of these agencies: the harbor master's office at 508-945-5185, Catherine Williams at the Department of Energy and Environmental Affairs at 617-626-1809, or the Chatham police at 508-945-1213.

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