As most everyone with a television set knows already, this week is the Discovery Channel’s 26th annual shark week. That’s right, Shark Week is twenty-six this year. Feel old yet?
The Bay State has seen a massive upswing in the number of great white sightings over the past few years.But the Discovery Channel isn’t the only place to watch sharks in action; the Bay State has seen a massive upswing in the number of great white sightings over the past few years. As of the writing of this article on August 7, three beaches on the South Shore have been closed due to shark threats. Although the beaches, located in Westport and Dartmouth, are expected to reopen on Thursday, it’s not the first time this year that sharks have ventured so close to shore. Beaches along the Cape have experienced temporary closings since the swimming season first began to heat up in June.
Last year in Truro, a Bostonian man became the first swimmer in Massachusetts since 1936 to be bitten by a shark. The victim, Harvard alum Chris Myers, survived the attack with multiple puncture wounds to his legs. In a Boston.com article that ran at the time, Myers speculated on why the animal abruptly released his leg and ceased the attack: “I figure the shark just didn’t like the taste of me.”
Sharks have a mysterious and powerful grip on the human imagination.– how else would Shark Week maintain such high ratings after nearly three decades? There’s something fascinating about them, with their gleaming rows of jaws and the seemingly unstoppable force with which they pursue their prey. But why have sightings along the Massachusetts coast become so common over the past decade?
Fishermen blame the seals. In 1972, the Marine Mammal Protection Act was passed, and the gray seal population along the East Coast has since exploded. Considering that seals are a main staple in the great white’s diet, it can’t come as a surprise that the number of sharks in the area has also increased. Even though a shark may not be trying to attack a human, swimmers nearby a group of seals risks becoming the victim in a case of mistaken identity.
So, the moral of the story boils down to this: if you see seals, you might want to rethink whether going for that swim is such a great idea.
For updates on shark sightings, including photos and exact locations, Cape Cod Shark Hunters provides regular information.