Sharks Are The Highlight Of Saturday's FINomenal Fest

By: Cape Cod Chronicle

Topics: Sharks , Community events

Everyone will be thinking sharks at Saturday's FINomenal Festival. LYDIA LECLAIRE PHOTO

CHATHAM – The frenzy surrounding the Cape's great white sharks is perfectly captured by this Saturday's FINomenal Fest.

For the third year, the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy and Mass Audubon's Wellfleet Bay Wildlife Sanctuary are sponsoring the free event, held from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The focus is on shark research and education and finding ways to help preserve the ocean's ecology.

“FINomenal Fest will feature entertaining shark-themed activities for kids and families, information about shark biology, life history, and the important role sharks play in the marine ecosystem,” said Cynthia Wigren, director of the Conservancy. “By providing the community with an opportunity to learn more about sharks, our hope is to shift public perception from fear to fascination,”

“This year we will be adding action steps that people can take—young and old—to help the health of our oceans and our Cape Cod coastline,” added Wellfleet Bay's Emily Wolfe.

The day begins with a 10 a.m. screening of “Great White Shark” at the Chatham Orpheum Theater. The documentary explores the aura surrounding the apex predator which has garnered fascination the world over.

Then at 11 a.m. the festival begins in Kate Gould Park, where activities include games and crafts. Participants will have a chance to experience various aspects of shark research, such as trying to assess a shark's size from an aerial perspective and learning how researchers on a boat communicate with the spotter plane that helps find sharks. There will also be a scavenger hunt along Main Street for stuffed toy white sharks in local businesses.

The event brings attention to the Conservancy's research activities and its work to educate the public about white sharks in order to reduce fear of the creatures. The group is sponsoring a five-year population study of the Cape's great white sharks, spearheaded by Dr. Greg Skomal of the state division of marine fisheries. Since its inception, the study has seen an increasing number of great white sharks along the Cape's east coast. The sharks have been drawn here in increasing numbers due to the population of gray seals along the coast. Along with discovering valuable information about shark behavior, migration and population size, the group's work includes the Sharktivity smartphone app that allows users to track white shark activities around the Cape.

Both Wellfleet Bay and the White Shark Conservancy operate nature and science-based summer day camps in Chatham. Wellfleet Bay’s natural history day camp in Chatham immerses children from 4 to 13 years old in outdoor activities designed to instill an appreciation of nature and Cape Cod ecology. The camp also offers a Leaders-in-Training program for teenagers from 14 to 17 years old who are looking to gain skills in leadership, working with children, and natural history. During FINomenal Fest, there will be an opportunity for families to register for a chance to win a free one-week session of camp.

All kids who attend Cape Cod schools are eligible for a camp discount. To learn more about Mass Audubon’s Natural History Day Camp in Chatham, visit www.massaudubon.org/chathamcamp.

The Conservancy’s Shark Week Kids Summer Program allows kids ages 7-12 to participate in hands-on learning experiences such as a mock shark tagging lesson and a spiny dogfish dissection. Visit www.atlanticwhiteshark.org to register and find dates available.

For more information about FINomenal Fest, go to www.massaudubon.org/finfest or atlanticwhiteshark.org.