The season of sun, sand and surf is on its way in, and so are sharks.
Researchers from the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries and the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy (AWSC) tagged their first great white of the season off Cape Cod on Friday. The shark, which measured 12 feet long, was seen about a quarter mile offshore, and has been named Luke, reports CBS Boston.
The first shark sighted, nicknamed Scratchy, was detected last week. These sightings mark the beginning of “shark season,” as swimmers are warned to be careful on their holiday trysts, local media outlets report.
In Orleans, the lifeguards at Nauset Beach reported only two great white shark sightings, but Nathan Sear, Natural Resource Director, said there have been reports of sightings of nearly a dozen sharks in the popular beach’s waters in less than eight hours.
Sears said the number was alarming, as many beach-goers are not likely to be aware of the shark activity going on nearby. He said,
Every day we are sharing that water with white sharks.
As a daily reminder that there are sharks swimming in the location, a purple flag with the image of a white shark will be constantly flying at Nauset Beach. The beach, along with other secluded areas to the north and south of the shore, are ready with attention-grabbing informational signs to warn people about staying “shark smart,” along with pointers on how to stay safe, like avoiding seals. Seals are natural prey of great whites.
Along with the signs is a video, featuring scientists and surfers, that will be aired on public channels, along with the Orleans website and anywhere else the general public can see it.
The AWSC, a non-profit organization, has been funding white shark population studies in the area, in partnership with the town. Their research has shown that Orleans indeed has a high shark activity level. This is thought to be primarily due to the increasing seal population off the Cape, which has attracted the great whites.
Cynthia Wigren, president of the AWSC, said there is still much more to be done in order to fully understand sharks in the area, as their research is still in its infancy. California, by comparison, has been dealing with sharks for decades and has amassed volumes of data.
Aside from the ongoing studies, the state of Massachusetts, the AWSC, the Cape Cod National Seashore and other organizations, are releasing a shark app. The app, which is set to launch on July 1, aims to let people known when and where sharks were seen in the area, in order to give them an idea of how much shark activity is going on. It enables people who see sharks to upload photos and the location on their smartphones.
“There will be good information out there,” Wigren said. In the meantime, the public is advised to keep an eye out as they enjoy their holidays on Massachusetts’ beaches.