Atlantic White Shark Conservancy and New England Aquarium Partner To Advance Citizen Science Initiative For Shark Sightings

Agreement Aims To Encourage Public Reporting of Shark Sightings, Verify Information Submitted To Conservancy’s Popular Sharktivity App

BOSTON, MASS. (May 17, 2022) – The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy and the New England Aquarium are partnering to advance a citizen science initiative educating the public and encouraging people to report white shark sightings off Cape Cod through the Conservancy’s Sharktivity app.

Under terms of the agreement, the Conservancy will contract the Aquarium to employ a local citizen science coordinator responsible for verifying shark sighting reports made by the public through Sharktivity and documenting submitted accounts of shark-seal interactions or other predatory behavior. The coordinator, Massachusetts-based shark expert John Chisholm, will also submit white shark photos and videos gathered from the public for identification and inclusion in the Conservancy’s White Shark Logbook Catalog.

“The New England Aquarium is one of the nation’s premier institutions dedicated to marine life conservation, education and research, and our collaborative effort will enhance rapid and accurate confirmation of white shark sightings reported through Sharktivity,” said Cynthia Wigren, CEO and co-founder, Atlantic White Shark Conservancy. “Citizen scientists play a crucial role in the Conservancy’s mission to educate the community and improve public safety, and we rely upon and value their sighting data reported through the Sharktivity app.”

In addition, the citizen science coordinator will work with the public to promote awareness of non-white shark species, including skates and rays, which inhabit New England waters and are often misidentified.

“The Conservancy has really spearheaded the effort to keep the community as informed and safe as possible regarding white sharks, and the New England Aquarium is excited to join and amplify this effort,” said Dr. Nick Whitney, Senior Scientist in the New England Aquarium’s Anderson Cabot Center for Ocean Life. “Our adjunct scientist, John Chisholm, has been tracking public shark sightings for many years and brings a wealth of expertise to help us coordinate sightings through the Conservancy’s Sharktivity app.”

Sharktivity provides information and push notifications for alerts regarding white shark sightings, detections and movements to raise awareness and help people and white sharks co-exist peacefully. The app sightings are input by researchers, safety officials and users that upload photos for confirmation. By enabling app users to report shark sightings and upload photos, the Conservancy is effectively crowd-sourcing critical data points on where sharks are spotted to minimize encounters and promote safety. Data from sharks with acoustic tags and Smart Position and Temperature Tags (SPOT) are also available on the app.

MEDIA CONTACT:

Pam Bechtold Snyder – psnyder@neaq.org, 617-686-5068