“Out of the water!!!… Shark!!!”
We are beach bums. For years our family has loved and enjoyed Cape Cod. We frequent the gorgeous beaches multiple times in a given summer, enjoying the big waves, expansive coastline and amazing scenery. The last couple of years have been somewhat different. A trip to a Cape beach leaves one concern in the back of my mind; sharks. I’ve lived in New England my entire life and never dreamed that swimming with sharks would ever be a concern. We want to enjoy the beaches not loose an arm…or leg.
Chatham, Cape Cod has seen much media attention lately and with good cause. There has been a great white attack and multiple sightings. All this commotion is caused by a little grey seal or Halichoerus grypus, if you would prefer the technical name.
A reform in the hunting laws that have protected the endangered species have led to an explosion of the seal population. The Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972 prohibits “the act of hunting, killing, capture, and/or harassment of any marine mammal; or, the attempt at such.” Accorrding to Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries, the gray seal population off Cape Cod has grown from 10,000 to over 300,000. The high concentration has has gotten the attention of the great white as they stalk Cape Beaches.
Cape Cod Hunters maintains a website containing detailed reports and photos of their shark sightings. The most recent was July 16, 2013. 6 Whites sharks an 1 Porbeagle Shark were spotted.
We took a ride down to Chatham to see if we could catch a glimpse of these predators in action, unfortunately, we weren’t able to see any sharks. We did see plenty of seals.
Several Massachusetts beaches have been temporarily closed because of shark sightings. We were visiting a Cape Beach a day last week when suddenly the lifeguards began yelling for everyone to get out of the water. It was a false alarm and we were immediately allowed to return, but it is scary to know that you have to watch for sharks while your kids are swimming and enjoying a beautiful summer day.