Sharks of Ghost Island

Great Isaac Cay, also known as Ghost Island, lies on the edge of the Bermuda Triangle. A place locals have abandoned after multiple shipwrecks, shark attacks and two lighthouse keepers disappeared. Dr. Craig O’Connell wants to find out why this island attracts so many sharks.

The goal of this expedition is to identify a shark super highway. This island may be a winter feeding ground on multiple shark migration routes and if so this eco system needs to be protected. Islands where humans have no presence seem to be the best environments for sea life. Nearby shipwrecks are artificial reefs teeming with life year round providing ample prey for most shark species.

Winter storms have reduced the visibility in the water for humans but sharks have extra senses that help them “see” in even the murkiest of waters. They can sense the electrical fields in the water generated by all life forms. There were plenty of tech problems from start to finish. Is this the curse of the Bermuda Triangle? The team wants to tag as many species of sharks as they can to prove this is an important stop on multiple shark migratory routes, by tagging migratory species scientists can find out where they travel and that will help protect them from human activity when they leave shark sanctuaries.

Though there was amateur footage of a great white shark near the team’s location they were unable to find and tag it. Great whites were not believed to be in these waters. They were still able to identify and tag 10 different species of migratory sharks: nurse sharks, Caribbean reef sharks, blacknose sharks, great hammerhead sharks, sandbar sharks, bull sharks, lemon sharks, blacktip sharks, tiger sharks, and silky sharks. So many different species of sharks in one place at the same time makes Ghost Island a significant migratory shark hotspot.

Wicked Sharks

The number of great white shark encounters around Cape Cod has spiked. Dr. Greg Skomal uses cutting-edge technology to get the white shark’s point-of-view, spying on exactly how and where they hunt in the summer. Using a brand new second-by-second camera tag Dr. Skomal, Joe Romero, and The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy record 48 hours of sharktivity and it leaves behind an acoustic tag that will stay with the shark for 10 years. If the tagged shark makes a kill researchers will see how and where the Atlantic white shark hunts in more detail than ever before. This groundbreaking information could save human lives.

An idyllic summer vacation spot is now prime hunting grounds for the great white shark. Since their return to Cape Cod in 2009 there have been three attacks on humans, one in 2018 was fatal. The first great white shark fatality in Massachusetts in over 80 years. Mid July begins the white shark migration, drawn in by huge colonies of seals. Great white sharks, seals, and humans in the water at the same time. This is never a good combination. Since 2009 Dr. Skomal and his team have tagged over 170 great whites with acoustic tags and placed a matrix of 100 listening buoys across the state to track them. This is the largest study of great white sharks ever undertaken in the Atlantic.The new camera tagged sharks head straight for one of the busiest beaches on Cape Cod where seals stay very close to the shore of the same beach. Though they didn’t record a predation they got several misses.

The footage shows that the sharks stay in channels of deep water near the shore hugging the bottom then suddenly accelerating upward. Some of these attempts occurred very close to Nauset Beach just outside of the surf break in poor visibility water. They also caught the first time a great white has ever been observed stationary. With its mouth positioned so the current flowed in. At night the tagged sharks head out to deep waters to “rest” in the current until dawn. Then they head straight back to shore to hunt. Some going as shallow as six feet. With this data Dr. Skomal can build a unique picture of shark movements. When and where they go and which beaches they visit. Listening buoys at the beaches can email beach patrol every time a tagged shark gets within 300 feet of the buoy. This only works for tagged sharks though. This year 49 tagged sharks have returned and pinged the buoys 17000 times. More than ever before.These camera tags and acoustic tags have revealed extraordinary behavior that could potentially save human lives. There have been absolutely no shark attacks on humans in Cape Cod in 2020. That seems like a very successful trial of the listening buoy system. 

Sharks Gone Wild 3

:: facepalm ::

Viral videos and news stories and just a little bit of shark news.

This is just reckless. Encouraging untrained humans to interact with sharks IS NOT A GOOD IDEA! When you don’t have the sense to put your camera down to keep yourself safe instead of maybe dying to get the next viral video, you need more home training.

Sharks are dangerous and people in these videos have no respect for them. Careless humans only trying to get attention on social media for their douchebaggery are getting hurt for their stupidity (it should hurt to be stupid) but they are also damaging the reputations of sharks by provoking them to attack.

The grand total of sciency information time in the episode was a whole two minutes long. If you can SAFELY get footage of a shark fine, but if it’s a choice between getting an awesome video or getting attacked, please please please have a little sense. 

I Was Prey: Terrors From the Deep

A California surfer, A Canadian Thrill-seeker, An Alabama football coach, and a mother from North Carolina tell how they each came face-to-face with the ocean’s top predator and lived to tell their stories.

This is the second program with this name this year. Once again…. I’m sorry you were attacked. I’m glad you survived. I don’t think it was personal for the shark. Please be more careful in the ocean. There really isn’t anything else you can say about these episodes.

 Tonight had another awesome beginning and then puttered out again (I wonder if they make a pill for this). So many sharks so little time. I have to say I follow The White Shark Conservancy and through this whole quarantine they have offered so many diversions for people of all ages. They really are doing an amazing job of keeping people usefully distracted from the pandemic. And their work in Cape Cod is absolutely fascinating. 

This is the end of Shark Week 32. I know technically tomorrow is also called Shark Week but Naked and Afraid has nothing to do with Shark Week. I was so worried about COVID-19 finding a way to ruin Shark Week for us but Discovery Channel really did an excellent job this year. Obviously they stumbled a little but nothing is perfect. I think this year was probably the best they have done in 5 years or so. Considering what is going on in the world right now this was quite an impressive feat. Shark Week has always been about learning about these amazing animals and trying to raise awareness and conservation for them. Sharks are a vitally important part of our world. They keep the ocean in balance and the ocean keeps the planet in balance. If sharks die, we do too. Once again, I am Sylly and I have had a “fantastic” time spending Shark Week with you. I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. I hope you are healthy and safe and that you stay that way.


Sylvia Papineau is an Arcade resident and self-proclaimed Shark Week ‘finatic.’