Cape Cod National Seashore Urges Residents & Visitors to be Shark Smart

Great white shark off Coast Guard Beach in Eastham. Photo credit: Pam King

WELLFLEET – There’s a lot of attention on sharks in the media right now, with television programming focused on both entertaining and educating. Recently, Outer Cape beaches in Wellfleet and Truro have been periodically closed to swimming due to great white shark activity and sightings.

Sharks are fascinating creatures, and it’s always a great time to learn more about their biology and behavior. For example, did you know that some species of sharks give birth by laying eggs, while others give birth to live young? All of those, whether eggs or young, however, are on their own once they leave their mother’s body.

During these shark-intensive weeks, it’s also a great time to remember how to be Shark Smart. The Cape Cod National Seashore wants to remind residents and visitors of key facts about staying safe while enjoying the beach, bay, and ocean.

Cape Cod’s waters are part of a natural and wild marine ecosystem with a rich diversity of sea life, including sharks and seals. Seals are the major prey species for the great white shark. Sharks often feed on seals close to shore, and they’ve been observed near swimming beaches.

While it is rare for a great white shark to bite a human, since 2012, sharks have bitten people three times in the waters off Truro and Wellfleet. One bite, in 2018, resulted in a fatality. With coastline topography changes and sharks and seals in the ocean, any level of activity in the water, whether wading, swimming or surfing, will pose a different degree of risk. Everyone going into the ocean should exercise caution and be willing to assume the level of risk associated with their behavior prior to entering the water.

If you decide to venture into the waters off Cape Cod, first learn how to be Shark Smart.

Be Shark Smart
• Stay away from seals and schools of fish, even in shallow water, as they attract sharks
• Stay close to shore where rescuers can reach you
• Don’t isolate yourself; swim, paddle, kayak, and surf in groups
• Avoid murky or low-visibility water
• Limit splashing
• Use the Sharktivity app to track and report shark sightings
• Know the location of the emergency call box and Stop-the-Bleed kits at your beach
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