Officials to Discuss Shark Safety Following Fatal Attack

WELLFLEET – The Outer Cape continues to mourn the loss of Arthur Medici after Saturday’s fatal shark attack off Wellfleet and local and Cape Cod National Seashore officials are looking to see what should be done in the future to keep people safe.

They are also looking to see what, if anything, could have been done to prevent such a tragedy from ever happening.

Medici, the 26-year-old from Revere, was attacked by a shark while on a boogie board at Newcomb Hollow Beach around noon on Saturday. He was pronounced dead at Cape Cod Hospital.

The attack was the first fatality by shark in Massachusetts since 1936.

It was the second shark attack on Cape Cod as a man from Scarsdale, New York was bitten off Truro last month. He survived the attack and is recovering from the injuries suffered.

National Seashore Superintendent Brian Carlstrom said they will continue to consult with the White Shark Working Group which is a collaboration between several Cape Cod and Southcoast communities, and shark experts and researchers with the Atlantic White Shark Conservancy and the Massachusetts Division of Marine Fisheries.

“Anytime you have an incident like this you want to evaluate how you are doing things and see if there are areas where you can improve,” Carlstrom said. “Maybe some things with communications, maybe some applications with technologies – we are going to have to look at that very closely and see what we might be able to implement.”

Carlstrom said the shark working group has continued to meet for the last five years and that it has been effective.

Town managers and administrators from the Outer Cape communities of Provincetown, Truro, Wellfleet and Eastham and Carlstrom are expected to meet to discuss the issue.

“The number of seals and the number of sharks in the area has increased exponentially and it’s not going to go away,” said Daniel Hoort, the town administrator in Wellfleet.

“So we need to, as a community and as an Outer Cape community, address how we are going to handle this.”

Shark activity has increased in recent years as the grey seal population off the coast continues to grow.

“It is a wild National Seashore and a very vibrant marine ecosystem that continuing to change and evolve,” Carlstrom said.

The Wellfleet Selectboard is also planning a public meeting for later this month that will include experts on shark behavior. A tentative date of Thursday, September 27 is being discussed.

Hoort said drone technology or communication systems to warn people in the water need to be investigated.

“There are sharks in waters all over the world,” Hoort said. “But they are kind of new to us so we need to learn how to address the fact that they are there in their natural environment and we as humans need to learn how to react to them and avoid interactions with them,” Hoort said.

Hoort said other communities around the world have already dealt with the issue.

“We just need to find out from them what has worked and what hasn’t worked,” he said.

In the wake of the two attacks this summer, some residents are calling for the culling of seals or white sharks.

“I really don’t think that’s a realistic option there,” Hoort said. “So we have to look at other options that are possible to help protect people who are using our beaches.”

Hoort said all options are on the table.

Towns and the National Seashore are also aware of the implications that shark attacks could have on tourist activity in the region, which is a major part of the Outer Cape economy.

“We’ll address the issues on tourist, absolutely, there is no question about that, but right now we just want to make sure everyone is safe,” Hoort said.

All National Seashore beaches are still open to swimming as weather conditions on the Cape remain favorable.

Carlstrom said they will continue to close beaches to swimming when sharks are spotted close to shore for at least an hour until it is determined safe for visitors to reenter the water.

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