great white shark alert! cape beach sharks are on the prowl all summer long. Is it safe to swim on cape cod? You can’t avoid them, so follow these tips to reduce your chances of ending up in a shark’s belly.
1. Stay close to shore
In 2012 the inevitable occurred. a local swimmer was bitten by a great white, and the news media has circled in to reconfirm your fears about the safety of your cape cod vacation by posting every video and sightings of even harmless basking sharks as if an ill-tempered jaws suddenly resurfaced with friggin’ laser beams on her head.
The 2012 Ballston beach shark attack occurred 80 yards from shore. While it was just an exploratory bite, which is common amoung great white shark attacks on humans, try swimming back to shore with one leg hanging off and you’ll quickly agree that it makes sense to play it safe and stay nearer the shoreline.
you can’t avoid seals. They can outswim sharks. you cannot.
Stay near shore. Keep your dog (and kids) close to shore on outer Cape beaches where Great White Sharks are hunting seals.
This includes beaches for all towns on the outer cape, and in particlular: Monomoy Island, Chatham, Orleans, Eastham, Wellfleet, Truro and Provincetown. Including the entire stretch of the beautiful yet shark-infested cape cod national seashore. and don’t think you’re safe elsewhere on the cape–if it’salt water, it’s shark territory
don’t look for fins. the best way to spot sharks from shore is to look for shadows, slowly creeping past. use polarized lenses and plan to sit for an eternity before you see one, unless you’re lucky.
If you see a shark spotting airplane circling above an area nearby, use extra caution. Check out the sharktivity map and app from the atlantic white shark conservancy to see how many hungry rows of teeth have been spotted in your area.
2. avoid swimming near seals (?)
Avoid swimming near seals—a tip you’ve heard ad infinitum each time the TV news exploits a shark sighting.
fat, tasty seals overrun the outer cape beaches due to decades of our efforts to protect then. you’ll never avoid seals, there’s too many.
so if you must swim with seals nearby, observe them for unusual behavior. if you notice them take off suddenly or converge close to shore, they might be trying to avoid a great white shark. or they just might be messing with you.
on south beach in chatham, for example, you may see seals swimming onshore inside of the dropoff point to avoid great white sharks. so think twice before drinking a few beers and showing your friends how tough you are by swimming out beyond the breakers.
remember: Seals can outswim sharks. You cannot.
3. avoid swimming alone in shark-infested cape cod waters
the easiest way to reduce the odds a great white shark bites you is to stay close to other people when swimming. While it may not prevent an attack, swimming in the middle of a crowd will certainly will lower the odds that you will be the one who gets bitten.
There’s nothing scarier than being far offshore on a surfboard by yourself, and having a big seal loudly splash its head up 5 feet behind you. you never know what’s coming behind you for a closer look.
so don’t go it alone. having even one person next to your cuts your chances of getting eaten in half. now that’s smart math they don’t teach in school.
4. don’t do anything that is known to trigger great white sharks to attack
great white sharks locate food by sensing vibrations and smells in the water. flailing and splashing simulate injured prey to sharks, and can stimulate an attack response. avoid unnecessary splashing, kicking or struggling motions when swimming.
dogs who swim poorly are sitting ducks. keep them onshore on days when the fins come cruising by. Or better yet, when you see dark shadows floating by, which is more likely how you’d detect the presence of a shark.
don’t go in the water on cape cod if you are bleeding or have open wounds. great white sharks have exceptional senses of smell. scent is detected by sharks using their olfactory bulbs, and these bulbs compose 14% of great whites’ brain mass. blood, urine, and other scents will alert great whites to your presence and put you both on the menu.
thankfully the era of the 1980’s bright neon wetsuit colors has subsided, as bright colors were said to attract sharks. wetsuits are mostly dark now, but unfortunately so are the seals.
from below the profile of a paddling surfer resembles a seal, at least in theory. body borders wearing fins look even more delicious, complete with the thumping of surf fins to heighten awareness. body boarders might as well dangle a sunday roast off a chain on their ankle.
consider surfing near the lifeguard-protected beach area where spotters are on the lookout for sharks. a solitary hike down marconi beach in the peaceful early evening might provide some great waves to ride, but getting pulled from a barrel by a two ton great white can ruin a good mood fast.
5. Don’t buy into the great white shark hysteria created by the news media.
Sharks have always hunted for prey off the shores off of Cape Cod. Sure, there’s far more great whites now, but they’re not looking to eat people.
no one has died after getting bitten by a shark in Massachusetts since a poor fellow in Buzzard’s Bay back in 1936 – and that shark wasn’t even a great white.
The 1936 attack was from a bull shark, a species that can live in fresh water rivers and lakes. If you want to be scared of a shark, that’s one worth worrying about.
recently there have been sharp increases in great white shark sightings off of the cape cod coast, due mainly to an increase in food supply due to decades of human efforts to protect gray seals.
sharks prefer these calorie-rich seals over bony dogs and humans, but at the same time its hard to resist and easy meal. exploratory bites like the one that killed Joseph C. Troy, Jr. in 1936 are often all it takes to be fatal. You should be more scared of bull shark attacks in rivers and lakes then great whites.
we all knew eventually someone will get bitten again by a great white shark on cape cod. when the attack on July 30, 2012 happened, it was the first of the many shark attacks that will come.
follow these tips to prevent a shark attack and you might stand a chance. good luck!