Concerns Over Sharks Could Move Chatham Swim Lessons

CHATHAM – With the increased shark presence on the Outer Cape, officials in Chatham are considering a possible move of youth swimming lessons from Oyster Pond Beach to a freshwater pond this summer.

Selectmen have asked the Parks and Recreation Department to consider the move as the installation of possible shark barriers at Oyster Pond Beach seem unlikely this season.

The town did not receive any responses after issuing a request for proposals for shark mitigation systems at Oyster Pond Beach, including netting or electronic devices.

The request for proposals follows a summer season which include two shark attacks off the Outer Cape. In August, a New York man was attacked off Long Nook Beach in Truro. A Revere man was killed from injuries suffered during an attack in September off Newcomb Hollow Beach in Wellfleet.

Selectman Jeffrey Dykens is in favor of the moving the lessons to Schoolhouse Pond.

“I may be overreacting, but I need to hear that I am overacting. Someone needs to convince me that I am,” Dykens said.

“I think to use an abundance of caution is a good thing.”

Seals have recently become a common sight at the beach which has been used for swimming lessons for youth for several years.

Parks & Recreation Director Dan Tobin said they are aware of concerns and that relocation of the lessons is possible, but not ideal.

One of the major issues for moving the lessons to Schoolhouse Pond is a lack of available parking.

“There is a fifteen car parking lot,” Tobin said. “A lot of people park along Sam Ryder Road just to access the beach.”

Other logistical issues include a lack of equipment storage and high pond water levels which are currently limiting beach space.

Portable toilets are used at the pond.

Tobin said efforts will continue to obtain more information about possible netting systems for Oyster Pond Beach.

“Obviously public safety is on our mind at the beaches every single day as to how to keep people safe and what it takes,” Tobin said.


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