July 31, 2017
The Portland Press Herald’s July 31 issue featured an article about research conducted by James Sulikowski, Ph.D., professor in the Department of Marine Sciences, and Greg Skomal of the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries as part of the first-ever study dedicated to learning about great white sharks off the coast of southern Maine.
According to the article, Skomal has placed transmission tags on 110 great whites since 2009 to track their movements and currently has 80 live transmitters whose signals are picked up by approximately 100 receivers in Massachusetts. The transmission tags can last up to ten years.
This week, Sulikowski will set up receivers around Wood Island, off the coast of Biddeford, Maine, which will be able to detect tagged great whites within a 600-foot radius. The transmitted information will inform the researchers about the frequency with which great white sharks travel into the Gulf of Maine.
Sulikowski and Skomal predict an increasing presence of great whites in Maine waters, as the population of gray seals, a favorite meal of the shark species, continues to swell. “It’s important to understand how the environment is changing,” said Sulikowski. “There are more seals now; it’s going to get crowded around Cape Cod. Great whites will look toward different areas. This is why this project is so important. We want to start now before lots of white sharks are here and we’re not ready.”
MPBN also reported news of the study and interviewed Sulikowski for the "Maine Things Considered" program. He explained why an increase in great whites in the area is not a bad thing. "Sharks are a species that will seek out the weak, the dead, the dying," he said, "so they actually make other populations stronger. And it would keep things in balance."
To learn more about the University of New England’s Department of Marine Sciences, visit www.une.edu/cas/marine
To learn more about the University of New England’s Center for Excellence in Marine Sciences, visit www.une.edu/research/msc
To apply, visit www.une.edu/admissions