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The results are in: These were the sharkiest beaches on the Cape this year

The outer Cape gets the majority of shark activity, though the finned fish have also been spotted in Cape Cod Bay.

Researchers with the Center for Coastal Studies have been tracking sharks in the shallow waters off of Cape Cod. Photo by Joseph Prezioso / AFP via Getty Images

Like bridge traffic and Sundae School dessert runs, shark sightings are a hallmark of summers on Cape Cod.

And some beaches tend to be more “sharky” than others, according to Bryan Legare, who manages the Shark Ecology Research Program at the Center for Coastal Studies.

The program tracks the shallow water movements of white sharks on the Cape, and the research — which began in 2019 — allows Legare to triangulate the sharks’ position as they move from beach to beach. He deploys the tracking equipment around the Fourth of July and removes it after Labor Day, before the weather turns. 

Shark sightings

“Generally, the majority of shark activity is on the outer Cape, between Race Point and Monomoy,” Legare told Boston.com. “But they are present in Cape Cod Bay.”

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Beaches with a higher seal presence — like Head of the Meadow in Truro or Monomoy in Chatham — tend to see sharks more consistently, he explained. 

“They’ve been pretty consistently using Head of the Meadow around 50% of the time, so a shark is present at Head of the Meadow each year around one out of every two hours,” Legare said.

Results have been more inconsistent at Nauset Beach in Orleans, where sharks tend to visit the beach more in some years and less in others, he said. The research has also shown that sharks tend to stick closer to the bottom of the ocean even in shallow water, likely to help them hunt seals and stay somewhat camouflaged, Legare explained. 

The Cape generally sees peak shark activity from August into October. Sharks tend to make their way south and offshore when temperatures start to drop (good news for the Center for Coastal Studies’ Jan. 1 Polar Bear Plunge), though the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy noted earlier this month that sharks are still being spotted along the Cape later in the year. 

According to Legare, the data gives researchers an idea of what sharks get up to — and where they go — on a daily basis.

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“Also, it’s going to provide really pertinent information for managers and beachgoers, because you don’t manage fish, you manage people,” Legare said. 

The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy, which recently wrapped its 2022 research season, said its researchers began using drones for the first time to collect video footage of white sharks off Cape Cod. 

The resulting footage is being used to study potential relationships between environmental conditions and predatory behavior. 

Greg Skomal, a shark expert with the state’s Division of Marine Fisheries, told CapeCod.com that the tech may also help provide an early warning system to beachgoers. 

And if you do spot a shark at the beach? 

“Don’t freak out,” Legare said, adding, “We need to be aware and have a respect for these animals in their environment.”

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