Pack of 17 Great White Sharks Spotted off Chatham, Near Lighthouse Beach

Probably waiting in line for The Squire.

Chatham Sharks

Photo via Atlantic White Shark Conservancy/Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries

Less than a week after the Atlantic Great White Conservancy identified two great white sharks off the coast of Chatham, researchers have spotted an additional 17 not far from Lighthouse Beach.

The shark scrum happened Thursday near Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge, reports the Cape Cod Times. The sighting was confirmed by the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy in conjunction with biologists from the state’s Shark Research Program.

Such a large gathering is unusual, according to conservancy president Cynthia Wigren and biologist Greg Skomal, as researchers normally observe packs of between five and ten sharks. The spotting surprised Chatham Parks and Recreation Director Dan Tobin, who said the only report he received was one of a shark sighting in Truro on Sunday. “We didn’t get any information, and no information from the shark sighting network,” Tobin told the Times.

On the same day researchers spotted 17 great whites, a man reported a shark in the water at Head of the Meadow Beach in North Truro, prompting lifeguards to clear the waters. The Times reports there were nearly 500 people on the beach at the time.

The news comes a day after Skomal penned an essay for The Wall Street Journal titled, “The Misunderstood Shark,” in which he demonstrates how far our understanding of these toothy Chondrichthyes has come, and how far it has yet to go. The first step, Skomal argues, is demystifying the creatures.

“This kind of publicity is perfect for our age of instant media gratification, and it is changing the way that great white sharks are viewed by the public,” Skomal wrote of Mary Lee, the shark with more than 87,000 Twitter followers. “By connecting people directly with individual sharks, the perception of these animals is shifting from fear to fascination. With fascination comes respect, followed by a concern for conservation.”