As the summer begins, the beaches are slowly filling with people of all ages looking forward to a relaxing day spent sun-bathing, swimming and hanging out with friends. For some, this peaceful day became a bit more stressful recently when on Sunday, June 9th an Orleans lifeguard on duty spotted a dorsal fin 150 yards off of the shoreline of Nauset Beach around 10:15am. Reportedly attached to this dorsal fin was a great white shark making its way towards Chatham. According to Orleans Harbormaster Dawson Farber, the shark is estimated to be between 12 and 13 feet long and the shape and color of the fin are indicative of a great white.
|A great white shark spotted last summer off Monomoy|
The sighting caused the waters to be evacuated for an hour until it was declared shark-free once again. This is not the first time a great white has been spotted on the Cape shores, nor even the first time for Nauset Beach, as just last July they had to close their beach for a few hours due to a shark sighting.
Experts say the reason for the increased shark activity is due to the ever growing seal population in the area. The seals, although a popular attraction, can pose an indirect threat as they begin moving closer to shore and inadvertently bring the sharks with them. The explosive growth is caused by increased regulations and protections for the gray seal population which successfully resulted in the regional number of seals growing from 10,000 to 300,000 in the last 50 years.
|Seals basking off the coast of Chatham|
So there we have it folks, the first shark of the summer. However, it hasn’t seemed to deter or worry too many beach-goers. Gerry Emmert of Brewster noted that the water was too cold to swim in anyway and others have expressed more concern about riptides than sharks. The Department of Marine Fisheries has advised to simply stay smart while at the beach; avoid swimming at dusk or dawn, stay close to the shore and avoid areas where seals are known to congregate.