Sharks close Chatham beaches, climate change threatens Seashore

Sharks close all Chatham's Atlantic beaches on last big holiday weekend

Climate change threatens all the Atlantic National Park beaches

By Walter Brooks

The town's mayor tries to ignore the shark in "Jaws".Unlike the town officials in the fictional town of Amity in the movie "Jaws" (see video clip on right) who put off closing their beaches after a shark attack for fear of what damage that might do to tourism on a big holiday weekend, officials in Chatham have banned public swimming at all the town's east-facing Atlantic beaches warning visitors that there have been too many great white sharks sightings to take any chances.

And they did it on the last mega-weekend of the tourism year - Labor Day.

The ban covers the town's barrier beaches from the Orleans town line on Nauset Beach south to the end of Chatham's South Beach and Monomoy Island.

However Chatham's beaches in the inner harbor, including Lighthouse Beach in front of the lighthouse and Andrew Harding's Beach just north of there in the inner harbor will remain open.

The town's beaches along Nantucket Sound like Ridgevale, Cockle Cove, Forest Street and Pleasant Street beaches are not included and all will remain open.

Then there is the financial effect of climate changes
Almost 5 million visitors spent $171M and supported 1,856 jobs on Cape

Threatened beaches are shown in red on the map above.As if the sharks aren't screwing up our Labor Day weekend wasn't enough, the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization and the Natural Resources Defense Council announced this week that climate change is already affecting the seven national seashores on the Atlantic Coast starting with the one on Cape Cod.

The importance of the Cape Cod National Seashore (CCNSP) to our economy is demonstrated by the numbers in the report:

  • Our Cape Cod National Seashore Park had 4,653,706 visitors in 2010.
  • These visitors collectively spent $171,182,000 while on Cape Cod and
  • The CCNSP supported 1,856 jobs here as well.

In addition to the park on Cape Cod, the new report adds Fire Island New York, Assateague Island, Maryland and Virginia, Cape Hatteras and Cape Lookout, North Carolina, Cumberland Island, Georgia and Canaveral, Florida, to the national seashores on the list of beaches seriously threatened by the effects of climate change.

The report says that the greatest threat to the seashores is that they will be submerged under a higher ocean, driven by a hotter climate. See the map on the right for the areas in red which will be submerged by climate change here.

The report includes the first sets of maps to show the low-lying lands in these national seashores that are particularly vulnerable to inundation by a rising ocean in this century, and before that to destruction of bridges and roads, ecosystem losses, and disintegration of barrier islands by the forces of rising waters and stronger coastal storms.

That is documented in a report, Atlantic National Seashores in Peril: The Threats of Climate Disruption, released on August 29, 2012. welcomes thoughtful comments and the varied opinions of our readers. We are in no way obligated to post or allow comments that our moderators deem inappropriate. We reserve the right to delete comments we perceive as profane, vulgar, threatening, offensive, racially-biased, homophobic, slanderous, hateful or just plain rude. Commenters may not attack or insult other commenters, readers or writers. Commenters who persist in posting inappropriate comments will be banned from commenting on