Patricia E. Kelly photo
"Well, this is
not a boat
it wasn't any
it wasn't any
and it wasn't
Ripper! It was
In (2008) a 7 foot white shark
washed ashore on Nantucket.
Wayne Davis took this photo of a white shark off Chatham, MA on Labor Day weekend, 2008.
Updated white shark information.
Seeing a white shark in New England is becoming much more common , mainly because of the increase of
white sharks showing up at the seal colonies on Cape Cod's Ocenside from Chatham northward.
New England is the normal range of the white shark. In 1997 white sharks became a protected species.
In this great photo, pilot Wayne Davis has captured the white shark tagging
operation at Chatham, Mass. - Five whites were tagged in 2009, and through 2013
a total of 38 whites have been tagged using this method. The State didn't have
enough money to tag all the whites that were encountered to date.
Photographic proof of white sharks at Chatham.
A tuna spotter pilot Wayne Davis, returning to Chatham airport on Labor Day weekend 2008,
spotted a large shark about 200 yds off the beach. Wayne is an experienced spotter pilot who
realized it was not a basking shark; he turned around and went back for a better look. After
observing the shark, he determined it was a white shark; and took several photos. Marine
biologists later examined the photos and identified it as a white shark. I saw one of those photos;
and it was indeed a white, Carcharodon carcharias.
The spotter pilot called a Cape Cod Newspaper and told them about the sighting, and told them
that he had photographic proof that it was a white shark.
Here is part of Wayne's e-mail to me: “I reported it to the (newspaper) and they said they weren't
interested 'cuz they'd done a few stories this summer already about people witnessing shark on
seal attacks around Chatham. I thought the (newspaper) response was very strange, not only 'cuz
I had a photo to go with the report, but because there were 6-10 surfers less than a mile south of
the shark....& the shark was swimming SOUTH.”
Strange indeed. I wonder if you called a local newspaper and told them of a local unusual car
accident that had just occurred and that you were an eyewitness, and had photos; if they would
say they weren't interested in the story, because they'd done a few stories already about
previous automobile accidents.
I suspect we had life imitating art on Cape Cod. Remember the scene in “Jaws” where Mayor
Vaughn is concerned about the Police Chief Martin Brody panicking the beachgoers with shark
talk. "Martin, it's all psychological. You yell barracuda, everybody says, "Huh? What?" You yell
shark, we've got a panic on our hands on the Fourth of July." Only in this case on Cape Cod it
was Labor Day weekend 2008. (Since then, they have learned sharks are good for business.)
A shark slowly cruising along at just half of our walking speed could easily cover 40 or more
miles in a day; therefore any whites seen in one location could easily show up many miles away a
day or so later. Satellite tagged white sharks show they can cover 75 miles in a day while moving
from one area to another.
A white shark named “Gretel” was stranded for over a week while in the Lackey Bay estuary
near Naushon Island off Woods Hole in late September 2004. That location is about 9 miles
south of where Joseph Troy Jr. was fatally attacked in 1936.
George Breen flying the plane- Billy Chaprales doing the tagging while Nick Chaprales runs the boat.
Onboard - Dr.Greg Skomal and John Chisholm who supplied and programed the tags.
How the Chatham white sharks were spotted and tagged.
Labor day weekend 2008, spotter pilot Wayne Davis spotted a white shark off Chatham and took photos.
Sept. 2, 2009- Pilot George Breen spotted two large sharks off Monomoy. (Chatham Mass.)
The sharks were later identified that day by Mass. Senior Fisheries biologist Dr. Greg Skomal as white
Sept 5, 2009 - State biologists Dr. Greg Skomal , John Chisholm and fishermen Billy Chaprales and
Nick Chaprales were able to get pop- up tags into two white sharks off Chatham close to shore. A third
much larger white about 15 feet long eluded the tagging after they followed it in shallow water for hours.
Spotter pilot George Breen assisted them in locating the sharks.
Sept. 8, 2009: Three more white sharks were tagged at Chatham, including a 15 footer, bringing the total
to 5 tagged sharks. There were no more pop-up tags available after the 5 were used up.
Sept.10, 2009 There are at least seven more, and possibly nine more untagged sharks at Monomoy
bringing the total to 12 -14 different white sharks that were in the same area off Monomoy.
To date, thru 2013 a total of 38 white sharks have been tagged at Chatham Mass. by Mass. Div. of
Marine Fisheries and 2 more were tagged by Chris Fischer on the Ocearch in Sept. 2012. -----
taken 8/27/10 15nm ESE of Chatham inlet
spotter pilot Wayne Davis in his citabria
A tagged white shark
off Chatham Mass.
The Mass. Div. of Marine Fisheries Shark Research program has kept records of reported white shark
sightings since 1987. In 2008 they confirmed 5 white shark sightings out of 19 reported. In 2009, five white
sharks were tagged at Chatham, MA.. Thru 2013 a total of 38 whites have been tagged. Other whites were
seen but not tagged.
There have been several accidental catches of white sharks in Massachusetts Bay, and off Cape Cod, in
the last 12 years involving bottom set fishing gear. The most recent ones that I know of were a 12-foot
white in October 2007, and one at least 18 feet long on November 24, 2007, and another large white on
Dec 18, 2010 . All were taken close to shore north of where the white sharks were tagged off Chatham.
None of the caught whites were tagged sharks.
The red on the tag
tether is chafing gear.
Welcome to NewEnglandSharks.com
Links to other pages are at
the bottom of each page.
Jan4, 2011 An e- mail to me from
FYI - the white sharks have showed up
down here. The first large shark was
spotted by a headboat last week about
22 miles ESE of Ponce Inlet, FL in 90'
of water. It followed a black sea bass to
the surface as it was being reeled up.
December 18, 2010 an enormous dead white shark is brought up in a fishing net
off Chatham Mass. This happened north of Coast Guard Beach. - Tom
White shark tagging 2010.
The boat is 35 feet long, the white shark is at least half the length of the
boat. 2010-off Chatham Mass.
Fork length in feet
Weight in pounds
Fork length in feet
Weight in pounds
Capt. Bruce Sweet of
SWEET DREAM III Sportfishing
catches a white shark, while tuna
fishing on the west side of Stellwagen
Bank, in Mass. Bay, on June 26, 2010.
The shark was tagged and released.
This shark was lost to research
because the Federal rules prohibit
you from having one in your
possesion. At present there is not a
clear path to Fed Law Enforcement
to get permission to bring it in, and
have biologists examine it.
Hopefully that problem will be
worked out. - Tom
For more info on white sharks in New England go to the White Shark page.
The last fatal shark attack in New England happened on July 25, 1936
at Hollywood Beach , Mattapoisett Mass., off the end of Grand Ave.
The fatal attack on Joseph Troy, age 16, occurred "a baseball throw off
the end of the pier" shown in this photo. The full story of the attack is
on the white shark page. - tom
Photo by George Haley 2/22/2012
This is a typical track of the white
sharks moving from Chatham south
For the latest tracking information
on white sharks Genie and Mary Lee
One of the signs of white sharks in the area is mutilated seal carcasses . The photo
below is from Chatham, Mass. - before conclusive white shark photos were available
Notice how well the "white"
shows along the bottom
Updated March 4, 2017
There has been an unprecedented increase in white shark sightings and activities
by white sharks last year in 2015 on both sides of Cape Cod, Mass.
Chatham Mass. had an amazing 141 different white sharks spotted in 2015 .
A hundred were not seen before, and over 40 had been documented previously, by
tagging or filming.
To me this is astounding. Cape Cod seems like the most active white shark area
on the planet for shear numbers of whites.
2016 NUMBERS ARE IN! - From the White Shark Conservancy.
This is a group that sponsors the tagging, filming , and related expenses like the
boat, spotter plane, tags and Miscellaneous expenses.
They take the State biologists out for those encounters.
John Chisholm of the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries identified
146 white sharks in 2016. 89 sharks were new and 57 were recaps (seen in a
Since 2014, 257 individual white sharks have been identified as part of this study.
March 12, 2016
Updated info at the bottom
of this page. - Tom.
Updated Oct. 25, 2014
There has been a lot of effort in the last few years put into tagging and identifying individual white
sharks on the east side of Cape Cod, especially in the Chatham area.
Even though I have always had good info on what is happening with these white sharks, I was
surprised by the number of whites that hang around, and are tagged, filmed by researchers and
pleasure boaters, individually identified and documented in such a small area. They are also seen
and filmed in other areas in Mass. waters on both sides of the Cape.
On the east side of Cape Cod we are talking about an area 20 miles long and not very wide since
the tagging and spotting is done close to shore in shallow water, and the distance is limited by the
range of the tagging boat which comes out of Chatham. It is impractical to run out into deep water
to try to tag a shark that might go down before you get there, or to run long distances when there
are so many sharks nearby- so local shallow water is where the tagging takes place. And they are
getting really good at it.
Amazingly, they have documented sixty (60) individual whites in that small area and have tagged
about 55 through the years.
They could have tagged more but they run out of expensive tags and have to restock. They have
gone out with 3 tags and the spotter plane has spotted as many as 15 different white sharks in
tagging range; but only 3 will get tagged on that day. Then they wait till they can buy more tags,
I mentioned to the spotter pilot yesterday, that we have whites in an area we fish near Peaked
Hill on the north side of Provincetown. Two of my friends while tuna fishing in different boats
have hooked up on them, and one was brought alongside and released. The released white ws
within 3 feet of view and the triangular serrated teeth were visible.
The pilot told me an interesting story about that area I mentioned -he normally flies and turns
back a few miles south of Provincetown but about a week ago he kept going and looked the area
over and saw 5 white sharks there, and here is what he sent me in an e- mail yesterday along with
some photos of the white sharks there:
"the last 3 are all north of Golf ball.......the 2nd one is a GWhite that just burst thru the surf
outbound......I missed it w/my camera, but I saw it RIGHT ON TOP of the surf when he plunged
thru the wave heading offshore.....pretty neat...ENJOY!!
(Tom here- When I saw his photo of the white shark just clearing the surf it looks like it could
have grounded itself if it did not get out of the surf and into deeper water, I am familiar with that
stretch of beach as we bass and bluefish there. )
There are also more white sharks inside the Bay on the Plymouth side, and when you put the
whole picture together there are plenty of them around in Mass. waters. People ask me, why are
there so many white sharks around lately, . To me two reasons leap out. This is their normal
range, and they have been protected since 1997. That's 17 years to make a comeback and it
seems to be working at least in my little area of the world. -Tom
This is a shot of a white shark at Peaked Hill, Provincetown Oct. 2014, that spotter pilot Wayne
Davis sent me. The shark just made it out of the surf. Wayne said it was actually in the white water
behind it, in the breaking surf. By the time he shot the photo it had made it out of the surf.
I guess flying a plane somewhat interferes wih getting a quick photo shot off.-Tom