Is The Gulf Of Maine's Great White Shark Population Rising?

Aug 1, 2017

The number of great white sharks may be increasing in the Gulf of Maine.

That's because population management of both the sharks and their main food, seals, means that there are a lot more of both than there once were - so populations are spreading.

New research by the University of New England and the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries will tag sharks and record when they pass by certain coastal locations, as well as use satellites to keep track of some in the shark population.

"We'll know movement data on the satellite tags by the end of this season," says researcher James Sulikowski, a professor of marine science at the University of New England.

University of New England professor of marine science James Sulikowski.
Credit Courtesy University of New England

Sulikowski says, in spite of the fear many people have of great white sharks, attacks are very rare. And, he says, more sharks mean a healthier ocean.

"Sharks are a species that will seek out the weak, the dead, the dying," he says, "so they actually make other populations stronger. And it would keep things in balance."

Sharks are the world's biggest predatory fish. Larger great whites can be more than 20 feet long, and weigh up to about 4,300 lbs. They live about 70 years.

This story was originally published July 31, 2017 at 2:12 p.m. ET.