The population of great white sharks in Northern New England has increased as the seal population has rebounded. Photo courtesy of Discovery Channel via AP

Maine state marine biologists will partner with Massachusetts scientists to study the movement of great white sharks in coastal waters of the Gulf of Maine.

The Maine Department of Marine Resources announced Friday that it will place 20 acoustic receivers in “near shore” waters off the Maine coast to capture data from tags that have been placed on great white sharks by Massachusetts biologists. The effort will help add critical data to a 10-year white shark study conducted by the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries and to work done by the nonprofit Atlantic White Shark Conservancy.

There are currently 210 great white sharks with tags that are part of the Massachusetts study. And data shows about 20 percent of those white sharks tagged in the Massachusetts study migrate to the Gulf of Maine, according to the Maine department.

“This effort will provide a much better understanding of when they are in our waters, what their habitat use is, and how those change over time. This work is important from a public safety standpoint and it will provide valuable biological information,” Patrick Keliher, the commissioner of the Maine marine department, said in a news release.

Keliher added that the Maine department also will explore a possible white shark tagging program of its own.

Dan McKiernan, director of the Massachusetts department, said in a news release that Maine’s additional 20 receivers already will help to expand the study and close a “knowledge gap” of where white sharks travel.

In July, Harpswell summer resident Julie Dimperio Holowach of New York City was killed by a great white in Maine’s first documented shark fatality. The shark that attacked Holowach off the Harpswell coast was later identified as a great white shark from a tooth fragment by a Massachusetts scientist.

In September 2018, a 26-year-old man from Revere, Massachusetts, was bitten by a white shark off Cape Cod Beach and later died at the hospital in the state’s first shark fatality since 1936.

The Conservancy, a nonprofit which works to advance white shark research, will fund 12 of the Maine receivers, according to the Maine department. Data from the acoustic receivers also will be uploaded to the Conservancy’s Sharktivity app that shows white shark activity detected by receivers.

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