Scratchy, the great white shark that was first observed by marine biologists in 2014, returned in Cape Code. The predator had been set up with a tracking device last year in August, as scientists wanted to monitor its movements and behavior in the ocean.
Scratchy received its name because of the many marks on his body, which marine biologists believe were caused by fighting seals.
The great white sharks are a species living in the coastal surface waters. The mature females can reach 20 ft in length, and it can weigh almost two tons. The predators may live up to 70 years, and they reach sexual maturity in their 30s, which is unusually late. The only threat of a great white is the killer whale.
From all the shark species, the great white is known to have the higher number of attacks on humans.
Even though the great whites are not usually habiting the Atlantic Ocean, the officials observed several animals in Cape Cod, an area with a numerous seal population.
Scientists are now worried that Cape Code could become a new home for sharks because of the generous food source represented by the seals.
The gray seals seem to have grown in numbers over the last decades. In the 1960s, the species was considered to be almost extinct in the Cape Code region. The locals used to hunt the seals for oil, skin and meat.
Subsequently, in 1972 the officials started to implement a new plan to protect the marine mammals which led to an increase in the population.
However, the large number of seals may attract the hungry sharks, and at the same time, the fish colonies have to suffer because the seals need to feed. The small mammals can consume up to 50 pounds of fish each day.
The disruption in the ecosystem’s balance will possibly have an adverse effect on local fishermen, who already complained about the fish stock decrease.
As for the great white sharks, in 2014 the marine biologists took into record 68 individuals. In 2015, their number raised to a worrying 140. Even if the increased number of predators may cause many unpleasant surprises, the authorities did not release any public opinion on the matter.
The marine biologists and local fishermen will try to find a way to keep the seal population under control, but this will not guarantee that the great white will immediately leave the area.
Cape Code and its islands attract many tourists during the summer season.
Image Source: Wikipedia