The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy now has two Cape Cod locations to engage and educate the public about shark behavior, research, history and conservation. The Chatham Shark Center facility operates year round, where most community and education programs are based. The new Shark Center Provincetown is open seasonally from Memorial Day to Columbus Day.
Both Centers are great spots for folks of all ages to learn more about the apex predator that is increasingly prevalent in Cape waters: the great white shark. White sharks hunt and feed on seals in the shallow waters close to shore on the Cape. The booming seal population has led to an increase in the white sharks inshore. This shared habitat between hunting sharks and beachgoers creates risk and potential for shark bites or attacks.
A key to keeping recreators safe on the water is knowing more about the movements and behaviors of this fish. The AWSC focuses on research, education, and public safety, with the aim to inspire conservation of white sharks. They offer in-classroom education, summer programs, and happily answer shark questions from visitors to the shark center. Their research focuses on learning more about the movements of sharks in the Cape’s waters by tagging and tracking sharks. This research helps to inform public safety initiatives like the purple shark flags on beaches, signage, and the free Sharktivity app that helps beachgoers track shark sightings.
How the Chatham Shark Center promotes facts not fear
With the increased population of sharks and news stories about the Cape and Sharks, lots of visitors to the Chatham Shark Center are curious and want to know more. The shark center’s info desk is staffed with folks happy to answer questions from how to identify a particular species of shark to how to use the Sharktivity app.
For those looking to learn more, the center offers a number of interactive exhibits to educate the public about the significance of white sharks to the ecosystem, the biology of sharks, and all about the research being done with sharks on the Cape. You can even get to know some of the sharks that frequent Cape waters by name and markings.
The center aims to deliver “facts, not fear” and also explores the ‘Jaws mentality’ that has rippled like a wake behind the 1975 classic film. The center wants to reframe sharks, not as the villains of the ocean, but as a species of fish at the top of the food chain that plays an important role in the ocean’s ecosystem.
New Shark Center Provincetown makes its debut
In the spring of 2022, the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy opened a second Shark Center location in Provincetown. This space on MacMillan Wharf was the previous home of Expedition Whydah Pirate Museum. (Fear not pirate enthusiasts; the larger Whydah Pirate Museum in Yarmouth is still open for business and is a great spot to learn about the Golden Age of Piracy, treasure, and the pirate ship found off of Cape Cod!) The new P’Town Shark Center also has a slip on the wharf, allowing the center to run eco shark tours on their 25’ vessel.
So be sure to stop by either the Chatham Shark Center or Shark Center Provincetown, or both, this summer to learn more about white sharks. Or join one of their Receiver Tours out of Chatham Harbor. Experience first hand the research used in analyzing the data from the receivers to find out if any tagged white sharks have passed through the area.
The Chatham Shark Center is located at 235 Orleans Road in Chatham. Shark Center Provincetown is at 16 MacMillan Wharf in Provincetown. Please check the AWSC website for reservations to visit the center and for the latest information.