Great white sharks have become a major draw for tourists in Cape Cod this year, but thanks to the efforts of Captain Bill Chaprales and his son Nick, also known as the Cape Cod Shark Hunters, scientists have a unique opportunity to study one of the ocean’s most feared predators.
Chaprales and his son have been tagging great whites since 2009, using a specialized pole that the captain invented himself. They have been featured in the Shark Week specials “Jaws Comes Home” and “Return of Jaws,” and according to The Boston Globe, are instrumental in efforts to understand the reasons behind the rapid increase of shark sightings off the Cape in recent years.
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As The Inquisitr has previously reported, the population of Atlantic great whites is surging, following years of conservation efforts aimed at protecting the species. A healthy population of seals in the vicinity of Cape Cod is also thought to be drawing great white sharks to the area, where the Chaprales operate a commercial fishing business.
Working with the state Division of Marine Fisheries, Bill Chaprales has tagged 39 sharks since 2009, with a 100% success rate. According to the Cape Cod Shark Hunters website, he utilizes a unique pole he designed in order to “minimally harm the animal being tagged.” Chaprales has tagged tuna in the past and worked seeking out basking sharks prior to Cape Cod’s great white boom.
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“We’re seeing these sharks, and I’d say 90 percent, they aren’t sharks we’ve tagged before,” Chaprales said, adding “this isn’t like a ‘Jaws’ movie, where the fins are out of the water. They’re right on the bottom. I’ve probably only spotted three of them from the boat, in all those years. You need the plane. So they’re pretty elusive that way.”
Chaprales is also offering a shark spotting safari to interested parties in order to raise money for the nonprofit Atlantic White Shark Conservancy. “If somebody wanted to do the trip, they’d donate to the conservancy, tax deductible,” he says, pointing out that private charters aren’t available. Tagging white sharks can be an expensive endeavor, with each radio tag costing $7,000.
According to Chaprales, Cape Cod “is like the next great hot spot for great whites in the world,” a prospect that excites him. “Every time we tag a shark, it’s an unbelievable thrill. That kind of research, you’ve really got to continue for years.” When it comes to studying Cape Cod’s great white sharks, he says, “We’re really just scratching the surface.”
[Images via Bing and Raw Story]