Spike In Shark Sightings Prompts Warnings

By: Staff Reports

This photo by Pam King shows a great white shark just off Coast Guard Beach in Eastham. COURTESY PHOTO

A spike in great white shark sightings along the Cape's eastern coast, coinciding with the popular “Shark Week” on the Discovery Channel, prompted officials this week to issue reminders about adhering to “Shark Smart” guidelines.

The Cape Cod National Seashore issued a press release Monday explaining that sharks — and seals — are part of the Cape's natural, wild ecosystem, and that while sharks rarely bite humans, it has happened three times off Truro and Wellfleet since 2012, including one fatality. A woman also died following a shark bite in Maine July 28.

Beaches in Orleans, Wellfleet and Truro have been closed recently after sharks were sighted close to shore. Early Tuesday Lecount Hollow in Wellfleet was closed after a sighting by lifeguards, and earlier in the day a detection of a tagged shark on a real-time receiver buoy off Newcomb Hollow closed that beach to swimming. Between Aug. 6 and noon Tuesday, there were approximately 68 shark sightings reported on the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy Shartivity app. Many came from Dr. Greg Skomal and his shark tagging team, with others coming from beach managers, boaters and the general public.

Last Thursday Skomal tagged two sharks off Nauset Beach. Two more were tagged Monday off Truro.

In its release, the National Seashore reiterated the following “Shark Smart” tips:

  • Stay away from seals and fish, which attract sharks.

  • Stay close to shore where rescuers can reach you.

  • Swim, paddle, kayak and surf in groups.

  • Avoid murky or low-visibility water.

  • Limit splashing; don't wear shiny jewelry.

  • Know the location of emergency call boxes and Stop and Bleed kits at the beach.

If you see a shark, report it to a lifeguard if one is on duty. The water will be temporarily closed to swimming, usually for an hour. Follow all signs and flag warnings at beaches and lifeguard instructions.

For more information, visit atlanticwhiteshark.org.