Mobile App Warns Family In Close Call With Great White Shark Off Cape Cod

A family visiting a wayward stretch of beach on Cape Cod has credited a recently-released smartphone app, Sharktivity, with warning them of the presence of a massive great white shark nearby, keeping them out of the water and away from a potentially unwanted interaction.

The unusual encounter unfolded Monday afternoon, when Beth Goldstein and her family visited the secluded stretch of beach near Chatham, according to the Times-Picayune. While sitting near the water, Goldstein’s phone buzzed with an alert from the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy, whose new mobile app, Sharktivity, she had recently installed. The notification told her that a large white shark had been spotted near North Beach Island, just moments prior. Goldstein and her family, which included her husband, sister-in-law, and the couple’s two children, were in an area known as the North Cut, which is located just north of the island.

“I clicked on the app, and looked at the map, and it said the sighting was 20 minutes ago, so I thought, ‘We should be careful’…My youngest [child] was sitting at the edge of the water, and I said, ‘Annie, don’t go swimming today.'”

As the group boarded their boat, a spotter plane used by the conservancy and piloted by Wayne Davis appeared overhead. The non-profit’s research vessel also materialized just offshore, alerting Goldstein and her loved ones to the fact that there was most certainly a mature white shark nearby.

“I said, ‘I think there’s a shark in here,’ and me and my husband were arguing back and forth about it. And then [the conservancy’s] boat came closer, and [they] yelled, ‘There’s a shark in the water.’ Then they got on an air horn, and [they] said, ‘The shark is right next to your boat!'”

Just then, the shark appeared, swimming alongside the family’s vessel. Later identified as James, a 14-foot-long male great white previously tagged by shark expert Dr. Greg Skomal, who works for the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries and in conjunction with the conservancy, the animal appeared not to notice the startled family, even as Goldstein’s daughter took pictures of it.

According to Cynthia Wigren, president of the conservancy, Sharktivity has been downloaded over 40,000 times since it was released earlier this month. Although only available for Apple phones at the moment, as the Inquisitr has previously noted, an Android version of the app is in the works. Despite this fact, when the alert went out Monday, over 10,000 people opened the app within the first two minutes.

As Wigren pointed out, Sharktivity is the quickest way for researchers to distribute information regarding shark sightings, particularly to people like the Goldsteins who find themselves in more remote areas of the cape. With over 140 individual white sharks identified by the conservancy last year (the second year of a planned half-decade population study), the app can be instrumental in giving safety-conscious beachgoers an edge when approached by the animals.

Goldstein told the Boston Globe that her family was excited to see the shark up close, though she admitted to being slightly nervous. After departing the scene of their memorable encounter, the family stumbled across several paddleboarders, and warned them of the shark’s presence. Despite their brush with the great white shark, Goldstein said that she and her family would return to the area, before crediting the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy with helping to keep them safe.

[Photo by Elias Levy – Own Work via Flickr | Cropped and Resized | CC BY 2.0]