Great White Shark Spotted on Outer Cape

According to Hooper from the 1975 blockbuster “Jaws,” if you’re looking for a shark you’re not going to find him on land. But this weekend Mass. scientists proved you can spot him (or her) from the air.

A 12-14 foot female Great White shark was sighted by the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy’s “spotter plane” in what is being called Cape Cod’s first ocean sighting of a Great White this year.

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Three conservancy board members approached the shark from a vessel about one-quarter of a mile out to sea from Nauset Beach on the Orleans, Mass. shoreline. The crew is studying the North Atlantic Great White population and located the shark after their plane discovered it from above. The boat and plane are sent out on searches for Great Whites in Cape Cod waters twice a week.

The shark, named “Ping” by the conservancy, was traveling alone and stayed within sight of their vessel for over an hour. On Saturday the conservancy stated on their Facebook page: “Ping was spotted by pilot Wayne Davis today off North beach in Orleans. The shark was identified as a female and estimated to be 12-14 feet long. She is now part of the Massachusetts Shark Research Program white shark population study.”

The sighting came within the same week that tuna fishermen in Cape Cod Bay video-taped a 16-18 foot female Great White, six miles southwest of Provincetown.

Sharks have been sighted off Nauset Beach in the past. Last summer a Nauset lifeguard spotted a dorsal fin 150 yards offshore, which briefly closed the beach, and in 2012 an Orleans sea kayaker had a close encounter with a Great White.

This year’s first official ocean sighting of a Great White occurred two weeks earlier than last year’s, and a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration study recently reported that Great White populations on the east coast are surging.