Shark tourism grows on Cape Cod, 3 years after attacks

There is no ominous music or distinct fins that break the surface, as the powerful silhouette of a great white shark slides along a small pleasure boat off Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

Michael Simard crouches low and points his finger towards a predator approximately 10 feet (3 meters) cruising in the water in the glass below.

A 48-year-old construction site director from Cambridge, Massachusetts glances back at his partner, Penny Anto Noglow, who is faithfully pulling out his smartphone while posing. smile. click.

“It’s really awe-inspiring,” Simard said after the tour. There they found at least 6 great white sharks. “I didn’t know how graceful they were. We just share it with them because we see this as their element.”

Three summers after Cape Cod saw two great white shark raids on humans (including the state’s first deadly attack since 1936), a popular tourist destination in southern Boston tentatively tentatively reputations sharks. Accept and slowly show signs.

A small but growing group of charter boat operators offers great white shark tours in areas where whale and seal observation tours have long been a rite of passage for tourists.

Atlantic White Shark Conservancy, a well-known non-profit shark research organization, is one of the organizations that jumped into shark ecotourism games. We are also renovating the Shark Center, a family-friendly museum that presents research on local shark populations, and building another educational hub to open next summer at the busy tourist center in Provincetown.

Elsewhere, local shark-themed merchandisers report vigorous business, even as the coronavirus pandemic disrupts parts of the region’s tourism industry. Cape Cod is visited by about 4 million visitors annually, generating over $ 1 billion in tourism spending and supporting thousands of jobs.

“I feel like we’re on the right track to be proud of Cape Cod,” said Patrick Clark, owner of Cape Clasp, a white shark jewelery company in the region. “Many of the first fears and hysteria were fears of the unknown, but we are learning more and more about them every year.”

Clark makes a variety of jewelery featuring whales, turtles and other marine life, but shark-themed pieces, especially marine-grade cords tied together with sterling silver clasps in the shape of great white sharks. The bracelets made in are consistently said to be his top sellers.

In Chatham, the center of the local shark tourism industry, a company that started selling the popular Cape Cod sticker in the shape of a great white shark about seven years ago took off due to an increase in local shark populations.

According to Christina Manter, the apparel company Cape Shark, which she co-owns with her boyfriend, last year to sell a variety of hoodies, sweatpants, T-shirts and other clothing decorated with logos. We opened a real store on the main street in the summer.

“We weren’t just popping up just because we saw tourism. We were around because we loved sharks and believed in shark protection,” says Manter. “It just fell together completely.”

There is no clear tally of how shark-related tourism contributes to the economy of the peninsula, which is about 65 miles (105 km), but its growth is due to peak shark sightings in August and September. It helps to extend the tourist season to autumn. Paul Niedzwiecki, CEO of the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce.

Indeed, dozens of beaches have been temporarily closed in recent weeks after sharks were found near 30 feet (9 meters) from some of Cape’s most famous sandy beaches. Shark researchers say they expect to tag and observe predators until November, if weather permits.

“A few years ago, there was concern that it could have a negative impact on tourism,” said Niedzwiecki. “But we’ve been working to educate people about sharks, and what we actually see isn’t a bad thing.”

Mike Bosley, captain of last month’s shark tour by Simard and Antonio glou, hopes that the shark watching tour will bring a different perspective to local shark discourse.

“Sharks are always there, but I haven’t always had the opportunity to interact with them this way,” said Bosley, who began offering full-scale shark tours between regular fishing and whale watching. Said. “They are part of our ecosystem.”

Since the 2018 attack, Cape officials have moved to better training and equipment for lifeguards and first responders as great white sharks move more and more to enjoy the region’s abundant seal populations. Invested to keep people safe on the beach.

However, groups of residents, vacationers and other supporters involved have formed non-profit organizations to promote more sophisticated and proactive shark safety measures such as undersea detection, land warning systems and drone surveillance. bottom.

Meanwhile, local surfers are now armed with shark repellents, including personal devices that emit electric fields that appear to block sharks but do no harm.

Concerns about great white sharks have increased elsewhere in New England, especially after a New England woman was fatally bitten by one in Maine last July and became the first to die in a shark attack in the state. increase. Dozens of marine organizations and state agencies from Rhode Island to Canada have formed consortiums to cooperate in shark research accordingly.

Gregory Skomal, a state marine biologist who is currently studying the hunting patterns for Great White Sharks in the Cape, says shark tours can prove beneficial as long as they continue to be held responsibly.

Currently, there are no tour license or registration requirements, but if you want to participate in more conflicts, you should consider these and other regulations.

In 2015, the state banned the use of bloody cham, decoys, and other food to seduce sharks. This means that common types of shark cage diving operations in Australia, South Africa and other shark-rich destinations are not permitted in Massachusetts waters. They are more than 3 miles (5 km) offshore, where state jurisdiction ends.

“We are very sensitive to activities that change the natural behavior of sharks,” Skomal said. “It is not desirable to go to the shallow waters near the beach six times (tours) following one shark.”

Like most operations, Bosley’s Dragonfly Sportfishing typically stays in water hundreds of yards (meters) deep and more than eight feet (2.4 meters) deep.

But it’s a relatively expensive outing. Almost three-hour tours that rely on overhead “spotter” planes to find sharks range from $ 1,600 to $ 2,500 per boat, and ships typically carry up to six passengers.

Antonio glou, a 47-year-old civil engineer, says that a spectacular experience is worth the cost.

“When people think of great white sharks, they think of’Jaws’, but that’s not the case at all,” she said. “It’s pretty cool that we know they’re there. The population is thriving and I think it’s a great asset for Cape.”

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