Sharks are a fascinating and often misunderstood species of fish that have captured the imagination of people around the world.
Rhode Island is home to a variety of shark species, including the great white shark, the blue shark, the mako shark, and the sand tiger shark. These sharks are an important part of the ocean ecosystem and play a crucial role in maintaining a healthy balance of marine life.
Rhode Island is one of the best places in the world to observe sharks in their natural habitat.
With its long coastline and diverse marine environment, the state offers a unique opportunity to study these creatures up close and personal.
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Thresher sharks are occasionally spotted in Rhode Island waters, and they are known for their distinctively long tails.
In 2022, a thresher shark was caught by fishermen off the coast of Newport, Rhode Island. Thresher sharks are typically found in deep offshore waters, and they feed on small fish and squid.
While they are not typically considered a threat to humans, it is important to always exercise caution when swimming or boating in areas where sharks are known to inhabit.
In addition, the presence of thresher sharks and other shark species in Rhode Island waters highlights the importance of protecting these animals and their habitats.
Mako sharks are commonly found in Rhode Island waters, and they are a popular catch for anglers in the state.
University of Rhode Island shark expert Brad Wetherbee has been tagging mako sharks up and down the East Coast for nearly 20 years and tracking their migratory movements around the North Atlantic. In 2020, Wetherbee tracked a shortfin mako shark to Rhode Island waters.
However, mako sharks are also an imperiled species, and their populations have been declining due to overfishing.
Blue sharks are one of the most commonly caught sharks by anglers off the coast of Rhode Island.
These sharks are found in deeper waters and can grow up to 10 feet in length. They primarily feed on small fish and squid, and are known to migrate long distances. Breeding populations of blue sharks are found off the New England coast during the summer months.
In fact, some charter boats in Rhode Island offer unique opportunities for tourists to photograph blue sharks and other shark species in their natural habitat.
While blue sharks are not typically a threat to humans, it is important to always exercise caution when swimming or boating in areas where sharks are known to inhabit.
Great White Shark
Great white sharks have been spotted in Rhode Island waters for several years now. According to recent reports, the Atlantic Shark Institute has tagged several great white sharks in Rhode Island waters, with the first one being tagged in June 2021.
Since then, several more great whites have been tagged, with eight being tagged during the summer of 2021 alone. These tags allow researchers to track the movements of the sharks and learn more about their behavior and habitat.
While great white sharks can be a cause for concern for swimmers and beachgoers, they play an important role in the ecosystem and are a fascinating species to study.
Sand Tiger Shark
The sand tiger shark is a coastal shark species that is commonly found in Rhode Island waters.
These sharks can grow up to 10 feet in length and are easily identified by their flattened snouts and long, sharp teeth.
Sand tiger sharks are typically found in shallow waters close to shore and are known to feed on a variety of fish species.
The smooth dogfish is a small coastal shark species that is found in abundance in Rhode Island waters.
These sharks are typically less than 4 feet in length and are gray or brown in color. Smooth dogfish are known to feed on a variety of small fish species and are often caught by recreational anglers.
The spiny dogfish is a small, pelagic shark species that is commonly found in Rhode Island waters.
These sharks are typically less than 4 feet in length and are gray or brown in color.
Spiny dogfish are known to feed on a variety of small fish species and are often caught by commercial fishermen for their meat.
Role of the Atlantic Shark Institute
The Atlantic Shark Institute (ASI) is a non-profit organization that conducts research on shark populations in the Atlantic Ocean. The institute is dedicated to the conservation and management of sharks and their habitats.
ASI works with researchers, government agencies, and other partners to gather data and develop strategies for protecting sharks.
ASI’s research focuses on a range of topics, including shark behavior, migration patterns, and habitat use. Researchers at the institute use a variety of methods to study sharks, including acoustic tagging, satellite tracking, and DNA analysis.
By gathering data on shark populations, ASI aims to better understand the role that sharks play in the ecosystem and identify threats to their survival.
One of ASI’s key partnerships is with the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM). The two organizations work together to monitor shark populations off the coast of Rhode Island and develop strategies for managing interactions between sharks and humans.
RIDEM provides funding and support for ASI’s research efforts, and the two organizations collaborate on outreach and education programs to raise awareness about shark conservation.
Department of Environmental Management’s Involvement
The Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (RIDEM) has been actively involved in the management and conservation of sharks in Rhode Island waters.
The RIDEM’s Division of Marine Fisheries has been conducting research on the distribution, abundance, and biology of various shark species in Rhode Island waters, including the great white shark, basking shark, and blue shark.
The RIDEM has also been involved in the development and implementation of management measures to protect sharks in Rhode Island waters. In 2018, the RIDEM implemented regulations that prohibit the possession, landing, or sale of great white sharks, basking sharks, and sand tiger sharks in Rhode Island.
These regulations were put in place to help protect these species, which are considered vulnerable or endangered.
In addition to these regulations, the RIDEM has also been involved in public outreach and education efforts to raise awareness about the importance of shark conservation.
The RIDEM has worked with local organizations and businesses to develop educational materials and programs that promote responsible shark viewing and fishing practices.
Shark Tagging and Tracking
Shark tagging and tracking have become essential tools for studying the behavior and movement patterns of these elusive creatures.
In Rhode Island, researchers have been using various tagging methods to track the movements of different shark species in the area.
Acoustic tags are commonly used to track the movements of sharks. These tags emit a unique sound that can be detected by acoustic receivers placed throughout the area. By analyzing the data collected by these receivers, researchers can determine the movement patterns of tagged sharks and gain insights into their behavior.
One example of a successful shark tagging and tracking program in Rhode Island is the Atlantic Shark Institute’s acoustic array.
This array includes over 50 acoustic receivers placed throughout the area, which have been used to track the movements of various shark species, including great whites, tiger sharks, and mako sharks.
In addition to acoustic tags, researchers also use other tagging methods, such as satellite tags and conventional tags.
Satellite tags are used to track the long-distance movements of sharks, while conventional tags are used to track the short-term movements of sharks in a specific area.
Shark Sightings and Interactions
Shark sightings are not uncommon in Rhode Island, particularly during the summer months when beachgoers flock to the shores. While most sightings do not result in any interactions between sharks and humans, it is important for swimmers to be aware of the potential risks.
Beach managers in Rhode Island take shark sightings seriously and will often close beaches or restrict access to certain areas if there is a credible threat to public safety.
In recent years, there have been several incidents of shark bites and attacks in the area, which have heightened concerns among beach managers and the public.
To minimize the risk of shark interactions, beach managers in Rhode Island have implemented a number of safety measures.
These include posting warning signs, providing lifeguard services, and educating the public about shark behavior and safety tips. Swimmers are advised to avoid swimming alone, especially at dawn or dusk when sharks are most active, and to avoid wearing shiny jewelry or brightly colored clothing that may attract sharks.
Despite these precautions, there is always a risk of shark interactions in Rhode Island waters. It is important for swimmers to be vigilant and to report any shark sightings or suspicious behavior to beach managers or lifeguards immediately.
At Narragansett Town Beach, in particular, there have been several reported shark sightings in recent years. In response, beach managers have increased their monitoring efforts and have installed a shark detection system that uses acoustic technology to detect the presence of sharks in the water.
Frequently Asked Questions
What species of sharks are commonly found in Rhode Island waters?
Rhode Island waters are home to a variety of shark species, including sand tiger sharks, smooth dogfish, and blue sharks. Occasionally, other species such as great whites and makos are also seen in the area.
Are there any beaches in Rhode Island where shark sightings are common?
Shark sightings can occur at any beach in Rhode Island, but some areas are more prone to sightings than others. Beaches located near seal colonies, such as Monomoy Island and Nauset Beach, tend to have more shark activity.
What should I do if I encounter a shark while swimming in Rhode Island?
The best course of action is to remain calm and slowly and steadily swim back to shore. Do not thrash around or make sudden movements, as this can trigger a shark’s predatory instincts. If possible, try to keep the shark in your line of sight and alert others on the beach.
Has there ever been a shark attack in Rhode Island?
There have been a few reported shark attacks in Rhode Island, but they are rare. In 2018, a swimmer was bitten by a shark off the coast of Truro, Massachusetts, which is near the Rhode Island border.
What measures are in place to protect swimmers from sharks in Rhode Island?
Rhode Island has implemented a number of measures to protect swimmers from sharks, including beach closures and advisories when shark activity is high. Some beaches also have shark detection systems in place to alert lifeguards of any potential danger.
What is the best time of year to go shark watching in Rhode Island?
The best time to go shark watching in Rhode Island is during the summer months, when water temperatures are warm and shark activity is at its peak. However, it is important to remember that sharks are wild animals and sightings cannot be guaranteed.