State unveils new shark ID tool
Tuesday, July 6th 2021
So you think you saw a shark. It's that time of year when different species of sharks swim along the Maine coast and out in the Gulf of Maine. Last summer's fatal shark attack in Harpswell prompted the state to step up monitoring of sharks along the coast—the population of white sharks has been on the rebound in recent years (see our story here). As part of those efforts the Maine Department of Marine Resources has unveiled a new online tool to help people confirm if what they see in the water is a white shark, or something else.
A form is now available on the DMR website that provides a convenient way to upload photos, to share videos, and to submit a description of a possible white shark sighting to the Maine DMR science bureau.
“Many people mistake other species of fish for white sharks,” said Erin Summers, Director of DMR’s Division of Biological Monitoring. “Species like Ocean sunfish or basking sharks are often mistaken for white sharks, so this new online tool will help people gain a better understanding of the species found in the Gulf of Maine.”
Once the information has been received, a DMR scientist will review it along any images or video submitted and will respond via email with information either confirming the species or requesting additional information.
Submitters should not expect an immediate reply, as responses may take several days to be returned.
People who are concerned about safety after seeing a possible white shark should contact local authorities for guidance.
“This form is also an important resource for citizen science that will help researchers gather information on the presence of white sharks in Maine’s coastal waters,” said Summers.
Sightings data gathered through the new DMR form will also be incorporated into research conducted by the New England White Shark Research Consortium which is monitoring the presence of white sharks in Maine coastal waters.
It will also be uploaded to the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy’s Sharktivity app. The app provides users with a recap of shark activity and shark sightings information and alerts. Information and Sharktivity app downloads can be found at https://www.atlanticwhiteshark.org/sharktivity-app
“White sharks have been in Maine waters for a long time, but there is still a lot to learn about their habitat use and migration patterns,” said Summers. “The information we gather through this form will help researchers better understand this apex predator. It will also provide the public with an opportunity to engage in this important research and to gain insight into the dynamic marine environment of the coast of Maine.”
More information on white shark research as well as a link to the form can be found at https://www.maine.gov/dmr/science-research/projects/whitesharkresearch/index.html