Shark sightings at Peaslee School

By Liz Nolan, Contributing Writer

Leslie Arsenault with AWSC Education Director Marianne Long standing with an inflatable model of a great white shark and in front of photos of Brian Arsenault and the shark tagged in his memory. Photo/Liz Nolan

Northborough – The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy (AWSC) based in Chatham presented its educational program for Marguerite E. Peaslee School’s second- and third-graders June 2. The traveling program’s mission is to increase student awareness of the existence of great white sharks in the Atlantic Ocean, especially near Cape Cod. In addition, the program explained the importance of tagging sharks for research purposes and about the positive role sharks play in the ecosystem, since sharks often have a negative reputation.

AWSC Education Director Marianne Long was excited to be at Peaslee, not to only share her shark knowledge with the students and staff, but to introduce them to a shark named Brian.

Leslie Arsenault, the mother of Northborough native Specialist Brian Aresenault, who was killed in action in Afghanistan Sept. 4, 2014, was instrumental in bringing this program to Peaslee.

Brian had attended elementary school at Peaslee, as did Leslie, which is one reason bringing the program back to the school was meaningful.

The other reason was because Brian loved sharks so much and he always looked forward to Shark Week. He planned to swim with the sharks when he was out of the service along with his cousin. It was his cousin who, upon the family’s notification of Brian’s death, reached out to the AWSC and had a great white shark tagged to honor Brian’s memory.

“It was a way for his mom to bring two things she loves together,” said Long.

Long discussed how grey seals are the primary diet for great white sharks off the Mass. coast and that they want to eat seals, not people.

“People wouldn’t even be an appetizer for them,” she said.

Great white sharks are on top of the food chain and help to control the population of the grey seals.

“They maintain the balance in their natural habitat,” Long said. “The properties of their body help them to be a top predator. A healthy food chain in the ocean equals a healthy ocean.”

There is a lot to be learned and research is necessary. As part of that research, some of the sharks are tagged so their movement can be tracked on larger scales as well as locally, and their population can be studied. Currently, 106 sharks have been tagged and 258 sharks have been identified.

AWSC has a new Shartivity smartphone app which is free to download and shark activity can be monitored. Some sharks, like Brian, are tagged after important people, while others are named based on their appearances or behaviors.

The great white shark study is a five-year study and it’s heading into its fourth year.

“Everyone can help with shark conservation,” said Long. “Pick up litter and prevent debris from getting into the ocean.

She also encouraged the students to share what they learned during the presentation and to remember that great white sharks are important and a misunderstood species. It is possible for the sharks and people to coexist.

Additional information on AWSC can be found at www.atlanticwhiteshark.org. People visiting the Chatham area can visit the Shark Center for interactive exhibits, videos, displays, and virtual reality experiences. Admission is $5 per person, but free for all military and kids ages 5 and under.

Short URL: http://www.communityadvocate.com/?p=90306

Posted by on Jul 9 2017. Filed under Byline Stories, Education, Northborough. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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