Great white sharks are the ‘keepers of fish stocks’ and the population continues to grow

If you love to eat seafood, you should thank a great white shark, because they are “the keepers of our fish stock,” according to OCEARCH founder Chris Fischer, who is about to embark on an expedition. in New England to learn more about the magnificent predators. .

“If the white shark isn’t there, you have no lobster, no cod, no stripers, no mackerel, no fishing. You have no future. You have no food, ”Fischer told the Herald aboard the ship M / V OCEARCH in New Bedford on Friday.

Sharks eat seals which devour all the delicious seafood humans enjoy, and that’s why great whites benefit the fish stock, Fischer explained.

The population of great white sharks off the east coast has been steadily increasing in recent years, which isn’t such a bad thing as it promotes healthy oceans, according to Fischer.

“When you see the return of the shark as you see it here, it’s a sign of a return to abundance in the region,” Fischer said.

OCEARCH is a global, non-profit organization that studies sharks and the balance of the oceans. Fischer and a team of fishermen, scientists and researchers are heading on a 22-day shark research expedition on Sunday with the first stop off Cape Cod before heading to the waters off New Hampshire.

The team will tag and sample great white sharks to learn more about the life cycle of these amazing creatures.

Each shark will receive a comprehensive assessment that will help researchers understand everything from reproductive health to the microbiology of a shark’s teeth and mouth, to determine the best antibiotics to administer if a white shark bites a swimmer.

OCEARCH has already tagged and evaluated 70 great whites as part of its study of white sharks in the Northwest Atlantic. More than 55 peer-reviewed papers have been published to date and with 40 scientists aboard the New England Expedition, more reports are in the works.

Fishing for sharks and bringing them safely to the OCEARCH research vessel to insert a tracker and collect research samples is no easy task, however.

Brett McBride, fishing master at OCEARCH, said he is scanning schools and traffic lanes where sharks might make their way to seals to find great whites.

Christian Purcell, OCEARCH leader, said they would fish near a seal population or use baits such as tuna to attract sharks before leading them safely to the vessel and onto an elevator where a team of scientists will rush to the animal. .

“There is an abundance of sharks here. In general, we have a very good chance of catching great white sharks every day that we are there, ”said Purcell.

Sharks tagged during the expedition are then added to OCEARCH’s real-time shark tracker, which is currently monitoring sharks around the world.

The Herald will join OCEARCH aboard its ship off Cape Cod for a day of its expedition to find out more.

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