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May 31, 2016 5:18 PM

NH expert predicts abundance of sharks off Granite State coast this summer

SEACOAST - A 24-foot basking shark was found dead near the Falcon Pier in South Boston Tuesday morning. It’s believed to have been struck and killed by a cargo ship two weeks ago. Basking sharks are the largest sharks in the North Atlantic Ocean. They are often mistaken for great white sharks because of their size and dorsal fins.

This summer, both shark types are expected to be plentiful in New England. While basking sharks eat zooplankton, great white sharks eat seals. Protected by the federal government since 1972, seals have repopulated in record numbers in New Hampshire and Massachusetts.

“The great whites are coming here because seals are their dinner,” said Allan Waterfield of the Seacoast Science Center in Rye.

A local shark expert, Waterfield says at least one great white shark was spotted off Rye’s coast this spring. He predicts many more great whites and other shark types will travel up through New Hampshire waters this summer.

Cape Cod has also seen a large influx of sharks. Last week, new shark warning signs went up at some Massachusetts beaches and purple flags bearing a shark’s image are to be flown at beaches where sharks are spotted. Drones are also being considered as another possible set of eyes for lifeguards who are always on the lookout for sharks.

A smart phone App by Ocearch can be downloaded and used by beachgoers to track the giant creatures as they journey through New England waters.

“A shark is not going to stop me from going in the water,” said Steph Spoto, who was swimming at Rye Beach today.

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