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Salem State-Led Team Surveys Views of Seal and Sharks on Cape Cod

Data collection for a community-engaged research project on attitudes towards seals and great white sharks, led by Professor Jennifer Jackman in Salem State's politics, policy and international relations department, began in June 2021 and will continue through August.

The “Human Dimensions of Rebounding Populations of Seals and White Sharks on Cape Cod” study is funded by Woods Hole Sea Grant, with additional support from a Salem State Faculty Scholarship Support Grant and Elizabeth A. Lawrence Fund Grant. Salem State University has partnered with the Center of Coastal Studies, University of Massachusetts Boston, Center for Animals and Public Policy of Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University, Cape Cod Commercial Fishermen’s Alliance, and Atlantic White Shark Conservancy for the project.

The research team includes Salem State graduates Vanessa Bramante '20, political science, and Victoria Kako '20, biology and political science, as research assistants and Derek Baseman '22, political science, and Nikki Brewster '21, psychology, as interns. Brewster was awarded an internship scholarship by the Frederick E. Berry Institute for Politics and Civic Engagement. Graduate students Rachel Bratton of the University of Massachusetts-Boston’s School for the Environment and Catherine Cummings of the Tufts Center for Animals and Public Policy also provide leadership for the team.

The survey is being administered to randomly selected samples of Cape Cod voters, tourists, and commercial fishers by mail and through Qualtrics. Based in Salem State's politics, policy and international relations office, the research team prepares mailings and manages data collection. Members of the research team also have begun to recruit tourists on Cape Cod National Seashore beaches, who will complete surveys by mail and electronically.

The survey is designed to assess the beliefs about the impact that seals and sharks have on the ecosystem, tourism, and fisheries; attitudes toward and knowledge of seals and great white sharks on Cape Cod; and views of management practices. Findings from the study will be used to develop an engagement plan to develop public education programs, enhance public safety, inform policy makers, foster productive discussions among stakeholders, and promote human coexistence with sharks and seals.

Story by Vanessa Bramante '20

Jennifer Jackman
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