7News gets up close to great white shark
Special Report: 7News gets up close to great white shark
For the first time, we're seeing a great white shark alive and up close. 7’s Tim Caputo was right there when the shark was tagged by shark wranglers off the coast of Chatham.
It’s about as big a fish as you can catch; a huge great white shark was hooked just a few miles from Cape Cod Thursday.
The almost-15-foot female is the first ever in the north Atlantic to be caught and tagged this way.
“I think this is most significant shark we've ever caught together,” a crew member said.
Tagging sharks, of course, isn't unusual off the coast of Chatham.
“We're up to a little over 30 sharks in four years,” said a crew member.
In all other cases, the sharks are hit from above. The crew of OCEARCH has a more hands-on technique.
After pulling the great white to a bigger boat -- a few of the brave men stand right next to it as a platform is lifted -- taking the shark out of the ocean for the first time in its life. That also means they get dangerously close to the shark’s razor-sharp teeth.
In the last few years, the predators have been getting closer to New England’s coast -- and this summer, a great white even attacked a man in the waters off Truro.
With these tags, researchers will get an exact location whenever its dorsal fin surfaces -- a possible early warning sign if a shark is close to a beach.
“We’re going to deploy real-time tags which are going to give us really fine scale data but big movements,” a crew member said.
But tagging great whites isn't only about swimmer safety.
“We’ll be able to go to the breeding site and determine how many mature sharks there are,” a crew member said.
The crew recently tagged 50 great whites near South Africa, a place where finding sharks is easy because there are hundreds in the water.
Scientists believe there may only be dozens off the coast of Cape Cod.
“This is the most difficult place to find them we've ever worked in,” a crew member said.
At the end of their third 12-hour day on the water, scientists like Greg Skomal, could finally, do some work.
“I think a whole bunch goes through my mind, from high anxiety associated to getting her tagged and in the water because we don’t want to hurt her -- to sheer awe over her mass, her girth, her length, the beauty of this beast,” said Skomal, Mass. Department of Marine Fisheries.
Once the great white is out the water, the clock is ticking. The captain yells out the time, as they try to get its vitals, tag it, measure it, all while making sure the big girl doesn’t hurt them.
“I was shaking a bit, I’ve blood sampled a lot of fish, but nothing like this,” Skomal said.
Water is pumped into the shark's mouth so it can stay alive -- a towel is placed over its eyes to keep it calm -- calm for a great white.
After only 16 minutes out of the water, “Genie,” as she's now called, was lowered back in -- and as if nothing happened, she swam away.
“So many said it couldn't be done!” a crew member cheered.
She might continue to cruise along the Cape coast -- or head somewhere else. Wherever she decides to go, we'll now know.
"Genie" was named after Eugenie Clark, a long-time shark researcher.