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Great white shark spotted off Greenwich coast

Robert MarchantMay 20, 2019

GREENWICH — A great white shark being tracked by a marine-science organization turned up in the waters off Greenwich Monday.

OCEARCH, a research and educational organization, tagged the 9-foot male shark off Nova Scotia last year with a digital monitor and named it “Cabot.” The shark’s travels through the ocean have been monitored by OCEARCH and then posted on social media.

“Hello Greenwich how are you today?!” the shark’s monitors posted via Twitter.

OCEARCH has tagged hundreds of sea animals, including whales and turtles. It calls itself a data-centric organization built to help scientists collect previously unattainable data in the ocean.

Cabot, named after the explorer John Cabot, has been found off Florida and Maryland in recent months.

Dave Sigworth, a spokesman for the Norwalk Aquarium, said it would be unusual for a great white to be found in Long Island Sound. He said the staff at the Aquarium were interested in following Cabot’s movements and getting more data. He said it appeared that Ocearch had noted the presence of a great white in the Sound a few years ago.

There doesn’t appear to be a risk to the public, Sigworth said. “I wouldn’t worry about it, if people want to swim in Long Island Sound.

The local waters are home to four native species of sharks: sand tigers, brown sharks (also known as sandbar sharks) and two species of dog fish. Sigworth noted that great whites are fairly common in Block Island Sound.

“It’s all about food — they’ll eat other types of fish, and seals,” Sigworth said, “Who’s to say one wouldn’t stick his toe in Long Island Sound once in a while.”

It was important to leave the big fish in peace. “The last thing we want is for everybody to jump in a boat to try and find him. Leave him alone,” Sigworth said.

Greenwich Habor Master Ian Macmillan said the public shouldn’t be alarmed, though kite-surfers around Tod’s Point might want to exercise some extra vigilance.

“Not a problem,” he said, “I think it’s probably well fed.”

The last time a person was attacked by a shark in the Sound was in 1961, according to Sigworth, on the north shore of Long Island.

He said the water quality in the Sound had been improving, and seeing new kinds of aquatic life in the Sound was a good thing. “Diversification is a positive,” he said.

The data on sharks and other forms of sea life being collected by OCEARCH was valuable, said the aquarium spokesman. “What they’re learning about sharks in commendable — and it’s fun to watch,” said Sigworth.

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