New shark safety resource for New Hampshire beachgoers

Brian Yurasits | SSC Marine Mammal Rescue Community Outreach Manager

Seacoast Science Center has teamed up with New Hampshire Sea Grant, Atlantic White Shark Conservancy, Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, and Shoals Marine Laboratory to create a comprehensive guide about sharks in New Hampshire.

Following the state of Maine’s first-ever fatal great white shark attack this July, shark and seal experts in the region have joined forces to answer public concerns about increased shark activity in the Gulf of Maine. 

The resource, Shark Safety and Facts for New Hampshire, can be found online at seagrant.unh.edu

Research shows that great white sharks and four different seal species have historically inhibited the Gulf of Maine’s waters. These animals were exploited by human activities in the past, but thanks to important environmental legislation (such as the Marine Mammal Protection Act, Magnuson Stevens Fishery Conservation and Management Act, and the designation as great white sharks as a federally protected species), we are seeing their return.

These experts collectively stress the importance of using science to help us understand how the marine ecosystem here is changing, and to help humans to coexist safely with our ocean’s top predators.

“Our Marine Mammal Rescue team collects data on the health of seals from Essex MA, to the Maine border, so that we can better understand how current threats like disease, juvenile abandonment, predation, and marine debris are affecting these animals,” says Brian Yurasits, SSC’s Marine Mammal Rescue Community Outreach Manager. “Seals play a crucial role in our local marine ecosystem, and the research that we conduct alongside our colleagues helps us paint a clearer picture of what’s happening in the ocean.”

The story of sharks and seals returning to the Gulf of Maine is a conservation success. Yet sharks, seals, and entire marine ecosystems continue to face the challenges of existing in our modern-day world. Moving forward, it’s crucial to support research being done to understand the delicate balance that exists in our waters, and to take the necessary precautions to prevent tragedies from occurring. 

The following are shark safety tips for your next trip to the beach:

  • Be aware sharks hunt for seals in shallow water
  • Stay close to shore where rescuers can reach you
  • Swim, paddle, kayak and surf in groups – don’t isolate yourself
  • Avoid areas where seals are present
  • Avoid areas where schools of fish are visible
  • Avoid murky or low visibility water
  • Limit splashing
  • Adhere to all signage and flag warnings at beaches
  • Follow instructions of the lifeguards
  • Download Atlantic White Shark Conservancy’s Sharktivity App

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