Some 161 great white sharks have been spotted around Cape Cod since June, prompting a number of beaches to close.
This week alone, more than 20 sharks were spotted off the Massachusetts vacation spot, prompting officials to close some beaches for three consecutive days starting on July 30.
The Atlantic White Shark Conservancy, which tracks sharks, lists 161 shark sightings since June 1 on its Sharktivity app.
The Barnstable County Commission heard a proposal this week on heightening awareness of sharks by naming August “Cape Cod Seal and Shark Public Awareness Month.”
Longnook Beach in #Truro has been temporarily closed by local authorities after State Police Air Wing ???? reports to @MassDMF that several white sharks ???? are close to shore/beachgoers. pic.twitter.com/FQwygtnZTp
— Mass State Police (@MassStatePolice) August 1, 2019
The State Police Air Wing ???? just spotted a large white shark ???? near the swimmers in #Truro. They have notified the local authorities. If the beach is closed, it’ll be a decision made by the local authorities. Use caution swimming out there! ????
— Mass State Police (@MassStatePolice) July 30, 2019
“You’re getting some very assertive great white sharks out there,” Ron Beaty, a commissioner, told the Boston Herald. “We need to be vigilant.”
He said a task force should be formed to examine the issue. In the past, he has called for culling both sharks and the seals they feed on in the area.
Gregory Skomal, a marine biologist with the Massachusetts Department of Fish and Game, said that there have been more great white shark sightings in July than the previous July.
High water temperatures and seals help attract the sharks and the species has been growing in recent years, though Skomal argued that more sightings doesn’t necessarily equal more sharks.
Newcomb Hollow yesterday after swimmers were removed from the water due to a white shark spotted. August-October are peak months of white shark activity off Cape Cod. Whether or not a sighting is reported, we advise caution and recommend not venturing beyond waist deep water. pic.twitter.com/TaTOwt8vxf
— Atlantic White Shark Conservancy (@A_WhiteShark) August 1, 2019
“We have to realize that it’s been a really hot summer, and more and more people are going to the beach, more and more people are carrying cellphones, and they have drones and they have all kinds of electronic toys that allow them to see the sharks,” Skomal told NBC. “And so some of these sightings are simply correlated with the fact that there are more people out there paying attention.”
The conservancy regularly updates area residents on beach closures and sightings on its Twitter feed, recently noting that August through October are peak months for great white shark activity off Cape Cod.
Swimmers should probably not enjoy the ocean during those months, the group said.
“Whether or not a sighting is reported, we advise caution and recommend not venturing beyond waist-deep water,” the group stated.
No shark attack deaths had taken place in the state since the 1930s before Arthur Medici, 26, was killed on Cape Cod in September 2018.
Skomal recently warned people to be careful while in the ocean.
“I ask people, if you’re going to be in an area where these sharks are hunting, and that’s particularly along the Outer Cape, parts of Cape Cod Bay as well, this a natural hunting ground for this species,” he told CBS.
“Take into consideration that you are a land animal going in the ocean, and be vigilant.”
“They are following the food,” Skomal added, referring to seals in the area. “And the food, unfortunately, is very close to shore, and we are very close to shore.”