Greg Skomal, the state’s leading expert on great white sharks, is coming back to Martha’s Vineyard next week to talk about his ongoing research. Last year, Skomal was able to pack the Old Whaling Church in Edgartown for his talk.
With that in mind, this year’s talk scheduled for Thursday, July 26, at 8 pm is scheduled for the Tabernacle in Oak Bluffs. “Seeing Deeper into the World of Great White Sharks” will include information on the more than 100 great white sharks that have been tagged by Skomal and his team of researchers.
It’s already been a busy year for great whites, Skomal told The Times. There have been more than a dozen sightings off Cape Cod, and three more sharks tagged as the season has ramped up, earlier than is typical, he said. Since his research began several years ago, Skomal and his team have tagged 136 great white sharks.
“Water temperature drives the movements of these animals,” he said. “Rapid increase in water temperature over this month has been driving the ramp-up.”
Ben Ross, an Edgartown seasonal resident, told The Times Skomal has deployed a second buoy off the coast of Martha’s Vineyard to detect pings from tagged sharks. Last year, a single buoy was located off South Beach, and did detect tagged sharks in the vicinity. Now a second one is being deployed off Edgartown Great Pond, based on information from pilot Mike Creato, he said. “We did it there because that’s where the greatest accumulation of seals are.”
Skomal said he appreciates the work done by Ross to deploy them. He pointed out that the buoys are not real-time detectors, but collect data from passing, tagged sharks. “We won’t know what sharks have showed up until the season’s over and we’ve pulled them,” Skomal said.
Tickets for next Thursday’s talk are $20 in advance and $25 at the door. Children under 12 are free. Proceeds benefit the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy, which helps Skomal fund his research.
Skomal cut his shark-researching teeth in Rhode Island, but spent 23 “great years” on Martha’s Vineyard after that, before leaving for the mainland in 2010. He said he always enjoys his return to the Island. “My own professional development blossomed with the assistance of the Vineyard community, which is fantastic, the fishing community; the local community is amazing, that’s really where I developed a lot professionally,” he said.