Run by the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy (AWSC), the Chatham Shark Center is a great spot 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.
With the increased population of sharks and news stories about the Cape and Sharks, lots of visitors 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.
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.
In the summer of 2022, the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy will open a second Shark Center location in Provincetown. They will be taking over the space at 16 MacMillan Wharf that had been the 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 will also have a slip on the wharf, allowing the center to run eco shark tours on their 25’ vessel. The Chatham Shark Center, which welcomes thousands of visitors each year, will still be open as well!
So be sure to stop by the Chatham Shark Center this summer to learn more about white sharks. You can even get to know some of the sharks that frequent Cape waters by name and markings!
The Shark Center is located at 235 Orleans Road in Chatham. This season they are requiring reservations to visit the center. Visit their website for the latest information. Admission is $10 for people ages 6 and up, and $1 for children 5 and under.