Cape Cod National Seashore releases great white shark safety tips

Superintendent reminds visitors we share the park with wildlife--including sharks

In a release Thursday, Superintendent George Price of the Cape Cod National Seashore reminded visitors to the national park that we humans share the park's land and waters with wildlife. And that wildlife includes great white sharks.

Although more abundant in the past several years, great white sharks and their favorite food seals have always swam, lived and fed in the waters off Cape Cod.

But as we have learned in recent years, more seals--and there are a lot more of them--means more sharks.

Although it is still rare for sharks to attack humans, a man off Truro's Ballston Beach was bitten by a shark in July 2012 while body surfing. Witnesses told authorities and researchers they had spotted seals in the area at the time of the attack.

To enjoy the Cape Cod National Seashore's many beautiful ocean beaches, the superintendent offers the following safety tips:

  • Do not swim near seals
  • Swim close to shore, where your feet can touch the bottom
  • Swim, paddle, kayak and surf in groups
  • Do not swim alone in the ocean at dawn or dusk
  • Avoid isolation
  • Limit splashing and do not wear shiny jewelry
  • Keep your distance (at least 150 feet) from seals, whether they are on land or in the water
  • Keep pets leashed. Inquisitive dogs can startle seals and the seals could bite or scratch the dog
  • Follow the instructions given by lifeguards. Familiarize yourself with beach signage and the beach flag warning system

If you spot a shark while at the beach, notify a lifeguard. Beaches will be temporarily closed to swimmers and surfers at that time. Lifeguards and or park rangers will let swimmers know when they can return to the water.

Once nearly extinct, seals are protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972. Fines and/or jail time await anyone caught harassing, injuring or killing seals.

The overabundance of seals has become a hot topic here on the Cape. Researchers have taken a renewed interest in the growing seal population and have begun tagging and tracking seals to learn more about them.  Officials are concerned for the safety of swimmers with the greater number of sharks drawn to the area to feast on seals, and fishermen are angered and frustrated by having to compete with seals for fish.

Most recently, a great white shark was spotted off Monomoy in Chatham.  It was not near swimmers at the time.


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